Boys Volleyball: Zacher commander of ‘D’ for Libertyville
Libertyville's Stewart Zacher will play at St. Ambose next season. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 15, 2012 2:47PM
As a freshman, Libertyville High School 2012 graduate Stew Zacher started on the volleyball ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams.
He played librero, his natural position, with the ‘A’ team. Zacher was called upon to be a setter on the ‘B’ team.
“They were desperate for a setter,” said Zacher, who jumped at the opportunity. “Anytime you can get more touches on the ball, you develop as a player.”
That was certainly the case for Zacher. Last year, he was a defensive specialist on varsity; this season, he moved to libero. Zacher, who finished with more than 250 digs, played a key role in the Wildcats’ success.
“Stew has a pure passion for the game,” said Libertyville coach Casey Aubin. “He is self-driven and puts it upon himself to become the best player possible.”
Zacher will play next year for St. Ambrose University, an NAIA power in Iowa. Lake Forest’s Henry Lamp is another area player who also signed with St. Ambrose.
“It’s always nice to know people because it makes for an easier transition,” he said. “The coach is confident and encouraging, and I (heard) good things when I talked with the older players.”
College volleyball seemed a long way away when Zacher was a sophomore. He was about 20 pounds above his ideal playing weight, and that hindered his ability to cover the court. He dropped the weight prior to his junior year, and that allowed him to make a greater impact.
“I started working out a lot more and eating healthy,” he said. “I was a lot faster, I could jump higher and I didn’t get as tired.”
Zacher took command of Libertyville’s defense this season, and back-row players looked to him for leadership.
“He was personally accountable and practiced with a purpose,” Aubin said. “That kind of attitude permeates the gym and shows the younger guys what it takes to be an impact player. One of the fun things about watching Stew, and all great liberos, is their ability to anticipate the game. He plays one step ahead of the ball, and that’s one facet of his game that I will remember.”
From the time he was introduced to the sport, defense has always been Zacher’s favorite part of volleyball. As his skills progressed, he relished opportunities afforded to a libero.
“The best feelings are when you make a perfect pass to the setter on a (hard kill attempt), and when you barely get to a ball to keep a point alive — and your team ends up winning the point,” he said.
Zacher said the way in which everyone must work together on the court is one of his favorite aspects of volleyball.
“It’s a team game,” he said. “One person can’t do it alone.”
Aubin is confident that Zacher’s skills will translate well to the next level.
“The way he prepares will make for a smooth transition,” Aubin said. “He was a staple of our offseason conditioning program, he put in the most video time, and he understands how to keep himself healthy. He is one of the most coachable players that I had.”