The Plainfield Central boys volleyball team fell short of its ultimate goal, but managed to establish a new standard for the program.
The Wildcats won their first regional title but suffered a 23-25, 25-20, 25-23 loss to Edwardsville on June 3 in the Bolingbrook Sectional final.
First-year coach Alex Hurlburt believes this season was first step toward building Central into a consistent winner.
"I inherited this program this season and said to the guys this year that I plan to have Plainfield Central on the map for the long term," Hurlburt said. "When you think of the perennial state powers, like Wheaton Warrenville South, St. Francis and Glenbard East, those teams up there, I'd like for Plainfield Central to be up there in that conversation.
"I'm extremely proud of my core guys that are graduated this year. They've paved the path."
The Wildcats (27-11) defeated Southwest Prairie Conference rival Plainfield North four times this season, including in three sets in a sectional semifinal.
Senior outside hitter Tom Poznanski, who had 21 kills in the loss to Edwardsville, finished with a team-best 402 kills. Poznanski plans to attend Northwestern but won't play volleyball. He expects the program to keep improving despite also losing leaders Tyler Spangler, Matt Bonderski and Kyle Oehler.
"I'm really excited to come back in the future years and see how the team is doing," Poznankski said. "I give a lot of credit to our coaches this year. We had a brand-new coaching staff, and they really helped us a lot. Every player on our team really developed so much from the beginning of the season. At the beginning of the season, we didn't even look like a volleyball team.
"Now, we made the sectional finals. It's a real credit to how we practice and the development of our players and a huge, huge part of that goes to our coaches and the job that they did. I think we set a standard for the next couple of years, so hopefully we can rise up to that."