CHICAGO HEIGHTS | After launching his third season at the helm of Marian Catholic's boys volleyball program Tuesday, Bob Piekarski's biggest beef might have been with the schedule maker.
Each of his three seasons have begun with a loss to Lincoln-Way East - this time by a 25-8, 25-6 count in Chicago Heights.
"We always catch them early," Piekarski said. "It's hard to compete with these teams that have 15 club players. On ours, we have two — on the lower levels, we have three.
"We'll get there, just not this year."
Piekarski's two club players this night were his son, Jake, a 6-foot-3 junior hitter and the Spartans' only returning starter, and junior Sean McGlone. Another Piekarski son, Zak, a 6-0 freshman setter, will ease into a varsity role this season.
In 15 seasons of boys volleyball, the Spartans have managed just two winning seasons. Under Piekarski, they've won 15 and 12 games — in 2011 and '12, respectively — the former total a high-water mark for the Spartans since their last winning season, in 2005.
"Things are looking up," Piekarski said. "I finally got all my coaches in place and we've had our biggest turnout of players of all three years. We're getting a little bit more athletic."
One of those athletes is 6-0 freshman middle Temi Onayemi, one of four Spartans to register a kill against the Griffins.
"He's never played before — we have a lot of kids in the program who haven't played before," Piekarski said. "He's in one of my son's classes, (Zak) said 'Come out for volleyball,' and he did."
East, 35-4 a year ago and a sectional finalist, eased away on a seven-point serving run by Carson Slager in the opening set. Slager had two aces in the run, which left the Griffins up 18-5, and Nate Van Dellen had two of his match-high seven kills.
Marian setter Liam Fagan, who managed three assists on the match, tried to look beyond what he called his team's "rough start" in what his coach called "a rebuilding year."
"We're young," he said. "I'm hoping if it doesn't happen this year, we can come back and win a regional next year."