For Max Lipsitz of Williamsville North and John Klanac of Orchard Park, competing against each other in ECIC I volleyball the past three years will be nothing compared to what awaits them.
The next time these athletes meet it will be on a floor at a Big Ten school. Lipsitz recently signed a national letter of intent with Penn State and Klanac signed with Ohio State. "We're going to kill them," said Klanac, making sure he was within earshot of Lipsitz.
Lipsitz and Klanac capped their high school careers by being named to the All-Western New York team. When they weren't dominating play for their high schools, both were traveling to national tournaments with the Eden Power Volleyball Club.
"I did all the visits, went out to California. My top choice out there was Long Beach State," said Lipsitz. "I really liked it there, the weather, the coaches were awesome, but it was a change I wasn't sure I wanted to make. The kids were completely different. When I went to Penn State, I just felt like I fit in with the kids better."
A 6-foot-7 middle hitter, Lipsitz played especially big with 52 kills against Lockport in the first round of sectionals. "We definitely would have lost if he didn't take over," said Spartans coach Paul O'Oonnor. "That's like someone scoring 55-60 points in a high school basketball game."
The 2005 All-WNY team was chosen by area coaches. Landing two picks each were Orchard Park, Hamburg and Eden (both juniors).
It was another big year for Hamburg and Eden as both defended their Section VI titles and both won their matches in the state's Intersectional against Section V. Hamburg won a school record 31 matches against three losses.
The sectional title was Eden's sixth straight and its ninth since 1996. The Raiders also earned the No. 1 ranking in the final WNY Coaches poll.
Jon Marcussen of Cheektowaga was named WNY Coach of the Year by his peers. His Warriors finished 19-4 and reached the Section VI Class B final, where they lost to Eden.
Klanac leaves the Quakers as their all-time leader in kills (since volleyball went to rally scoring in 2000). He was MVP of the Webster Tournament and led his team into the sectional final. He decided on Ohio State after visits to Penn State and Southern Cal.
"Ohio State was actually the first people who started talking to me. My coach, Matt Lexner, he played there (1991-1993), so there was influence all around me when I went and visited," he said. "I went and stayed overnight at Ohio State and the guys were all awesome."
Here's a look at the other members of the team:
Peter Clauss, Orchard Park: Repeat first teamer. . . . Ends his four-year career as the school record holder in assists since volleyball went to rally scoring in 2000. "He was probably our best server too," said Lexner. . . . Named all-tournament at Clarence, Eden, Webster and Orchard Park. . . . Carries a 99 average. Considering Cornell (where his two brother are) where he will study biology.
Nikolaj Prychodko, Hamburg: Repeat first teamer. . . . Three-year starter. . . . MVP of the Eden Pan-Am and Orchard Park Tournaments. . . . Considering financial package from Quincy or may try and walk on at Penn State. . . . Prychodko had 412 kills and 46 aces but he was also the best blocker on a team where blocking was a critical factor in its wins. "He's a very versatile hitter and can play middle and left side," said coach Brian Carroll.
Pat Abulone, Hamburg: Averaged 11 kills and 10 digs per match. . . . Was MVP of Sweet Home Tournament. . . . Scored points on 13 of his 16 kill attempts in sectional final versus Orchard Park. . . . Also an accomplished basketball and baseball player. Excellent jumper who can reverse dunk a basketball. "He hits at the height of his jump when he's against a big block," said Carroll.
Tom Klein, Eden: Joins his brother, Joe, who was All-WNY in 2002 and 2001. . . . Coach Robert Pierce described Klein as a very strong and physical player with exceptional leaping ability. He's an intense competitor who hates to lose. "He just pounds the ball. He can get a good swing with a one-step approach. He understands the game and is well-skilled in everything." . . . Honor roll student.
Jake Waszak, Eden: MVP of 16-team Clarence Tournament. . . . He's been setting for the varsity since he was a sophomore and is the all-time leader in assists. . . . Has been in state finals in his three varsity seasons, winning twice. . . Carries a 97 average. . . . "He knows when to push these guys and has learned how to relax a little bit too," said Pierce. "He's a really competitive person and that's infectious to his teammates."
Joe Montroy, Canisius: Honor roll student considering Springfield (Mass.), Juniata (Pa.) and Sacred Heart (Conn.) for sports management or finance. . . . MVP of Central Square Tournament. . . . Had 17 kills in four-game win over St. Francis in Monsignor Martin Association champion match. . . . "He was very offensive-oriented, but that was just the beginning of his game," said coach Brian Lombardo. "He was our floor leader and the guy we looked to all year." . . . The Crusaders finished 23-6.