Brandon Block knows victories won’t come easy for Warren.
The senior setter has started his second season in that role for the Blue Devils, so he understands the difficulty of playing with an inexperienced team against the competition in the Chicago area in general and in the North Suburban Conference in particular.
“Most of the teams in our league have a lot of guys who have been playing a long time,” Block said. “We have some good younger guys who are going to take time to jell. We just need the experience of practicing and working together.”
The early part of the schedule didn’t do Block and his Warren teammates any favors. A nonconference match against two-time Central Suburban North winner Vernon Hills in the season opener last week was followed by matches against Loyola, Glenbrook North and Sandburg in the Barrington/Vernon Hills Invitational over the weekend, throwing the Blue Devils into the fire under first-year coach Brianne Honda.
The Blue Devils (1-4) won for the first time on Saturday, beating Deerfield in the Bronze Pool at Vernon Hills.
“Yeah, we have played some really good teams right away, but I like what I see from our guys,” Honda said. “They could be hanging their heads and feeling sorry for themselves, but they are playing with a lot of energy and having fun out there.
“There is nothing wrong with playing good competition because it shows you what areas you need to work on. That’s happening right now for us.”
Block said he likes the players’ attitudes so far.
“Guys are picking each other up and giving encouragement,” he said. “We know we are going to be a better team with more work. We just have to stick with it and continue to get better.”
Having an experienced setter like Block has helped Honda.
“Brandon has played with (hitters) Alec Dangel and Jacob (Brouillard) before, so he knows them well, and that makes a big difference for our offense,” she said. “We try to play them together as much as we can.”
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Adam Juarez and Joel Paasch have also been seeing time in Warren’s two-setter offense.
“We are still in the stage of seeing what will work for us,” Honda said. “We will be experimenting with a lot of different positions to figure out what’s our best lineup.”
Block, who also played soccer for the Blue Devils, knows this will be a transitional time with a new coach and several new players.
“Warren has always had a strong team in the past, and I think we can get there again,” he said. “We might take our lumps at times, but we are not going to give up, and we are going to work at getting better.”
After taking a rest from matches during spring break this week, Warren will start conference play on April 5 against Libertyville, which finished in fourth place in the state finals last season.
“Our schedule is not going to get any easier, so we are going to have to raise the level of our game,” Block said.
Darren Day is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.