Student News Site of Hinsdale South High School


Student News Site of Hinsdale South High School


Student News Site of Hinsdale South High School


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South Sports Unite to Volley for Joey

Annika Nicol
Senior Samson Schuyler attacks at the net as juniors Kelan Nicol (left) and Tommy Madden (right) attempt to block the ball in the second set of the final game.

Football receivers used to sprinting down the turf learn to clasp their hands and pass; wrestlers trained in throwing opponents down on the mat practice blocking at the net; soccer players experienced in dribbling with their feet are taught to spike the ball as it soars through the air. 

There is only one game where all of Hinsdale South’s male athletes play on the same court: the Junior vs. Senior Volley for Joey Game. On December 14th, the junior class faced off against the seniors in a head to head battle on the volleyball court to raise money for Joey’s Afterglow.

Joey’s Afterglow was started in honor of Joey Ventimiglia who passed away in 2018 due to Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). The organization serves to raise awareness for DIPG while also spreading kindness to the community.

My brother Joey was filled with kindness, laughter, light and much more. In starting Joey’s Afterglow we want[ed] to make sure that part of Joey lives on.

— Madelyn Ventimiglia

“My brother Joey was filled with kindness, laughter, light and much more,” said junior Madelyn Ventimiglia. “In starting Joey’s Afterglow we want[ed] to make sure that part of Joey lives on.” 

Along with the Junior vs. Senior Volleyball game, the annual toy drive run by Joey’s Afterglow is another way the organization spreads joy. Thousands of toys have been donated to the community and children in need thanks to the work of Joey’s Afterglow.

Prior to game night, both classes prepared by having team practices led by their coaches from the girls’ volleyball program. Practices consisted of many scrimmages as coaches built their strategies and lineups.

“From the practices, we definitely got an idea of who can play which positions better and we are going to try to put people in the positions they do better in,” said senior Emilis Kudarauskas. 

Teams squeezed in as many practices as they could before game day arrived. Before the final match between the juniors and seniors could take place, each grade eliminated one of their own teams in a one set game to 25 to decide who would take on the opposing class in the championship.

A few big swings from Kelan Nicol and heroic digs from the back row gave the junior squad led by Madelyn Ventimiglia and Jane Gallagher a spot in the final game against the seniors. 

The team culture was my favorite part,” said junior Kaden Alavi despite a loss in the junior match. “We were able to laugh and have fun playing the game together.”

On the other side of the net in the championship, composed of 3 sets to 15, were the seniors coached by Claudia Budzak and Sophia Schiappa who won the senior game with key players Matthew Peczulis, totaling 5 kills on the match, and Adrian Folfas, putting up numerous blocks. 

“I was happy we were able to get everyone involved,” remarked senior Quinn Marron after a loss in the senior game. “We did a good job with it, it wasn’t just me out there and I was happy with that.”

The final match started with an early lead by the seniors, followed by the junior squad battling back. A major factor in the score was the string of missed serves coming from both sides of the net. The points went back and forth between teams until the juniors went on a sudden run that ended in an 11-15 win in the first set.

The second set, once again, was nerve-wracking start to finish. The two teams settled in during this match, resulting in more serves put in play. The entire game all came down to senior Samson Schuyler as he stepped behind the end line for his serve. Schuyler put a jump float over the net, where it hit the floor for an ace and gave the seniors a chance to win in the third set.

The bench clears as the seniors rush Samson Schuyler after serving the ace to win the second set against the juniors. (Annika Nicol)

The juniors upset the seniors in the first match and the seniors came back with a vengeance to send the game to a third set. The juniors won the serve which Nicol took advantage of with an ace on the first point. This was quickly answered by yet another kill by Peczulis in the following point. The lead teetered between teams for the whole set. Neither side went on a scoring stretch mainly due to costing points on net violations while blocking. Notable plays were made by junior Dominick Dometico in the back row with point-saving digs and Folfas with his well-timed blocks that halted the momentum of his opponents. 

The score made a slow ascent to 13-14, putting the juniors at match point. A lengthy rally ensued as teams took turns passing and attacking until a roll shot from the outside by junior John Kadolph fell inside the lines on the senior’s side of the court. A flood of pink shirts rushed the court as the juniors celebrated their 2-1 set victory over the seniors. 

“I think we could have played a little less scrappy with setting up balls to hit over and when we were down we could have been less demoralized about it,” said senior Anthony Cox after the final match, “I learned that it doesn’t matter what the other team says, you just have to keep your head up.”

Juniors Dominick Dometico (left) and Kelan Nicol (right) high five on the court after winning a point against the seniors in the championship match. (Annika Nicol)

The seniors had to deal with a loss while the juniors were a flurry of pink as they jumped and crashed into each other in the middle of the gym. A fight for pride was not the real reason behind the game; the match was set up to raise money for Joey’s Afterglow.

“It would bring Joey much joy to know that so many kids receive these toys during the holiday season,” continued Ventimiglia.

The Volley for Joey game not only lets Hornet athletes try a new sport and have fun with their fellow classmates on the court; it also bands together the Hinsdale South community, no matter the grade level, to raise awareness for a common cause. The event provides an entertaining game and the junior class of 2025 won out this year, but Joey’s Afterglow extending happiness and joy is the most memorable part of the night.

The junior team storms the court followed by their coaches Madelyn Ventimiglia (far left) and Jane Gallagher (right) after defeating the seniors in the third set. (Annika Nicol)
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About the Contributor
Annika Nicol, Sports Editor
Senior Annika Nicol is the Sports Editor on Stinger and is in her fourth year on the Stinger staff. She competed in the IHSA State Journalism series in 2022 and 2023, placing second in sectionals in the Sports Writing category. She also plays softball and golf for South, and is involved in Key Club, Peer Leadership Network, and Future Healthcare Professionals. Outside of school, she likes to make random crafts and watch the Friends Series. A fun fact about Annika is that she has never drank soda.  

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