1993 Volleyball Team (2006)
In 1990, as freshmen in the nascent Loyola Academy volleyball program, they were 0-12. As seniors four years later, they stood undefeated at 33-0, were ranked number one in the state, and were hunting for a state title. Coaches Bob Erlenbaugh (Hall of Fame, 2006), Bob Pawlikowski, and Victor Botwin watched with interest the year-by-year development and maturation of those winless freshmen, and they knew as they began pre-season training in the late winter of 1993 that something special was brewing on Laramie Avenue. The 1993 Volleyball Team, led by five seasoned veterans in the senior class, was laden with talent at every position on the court and was poised for a run at the IHSA state title that had eluded them the previous two seasons. Preparation began in earnest, with Coach Erlenbaugh placing added emphasis on defense with his offensive minded crew. In grinding two-hour practice sessions, the coaching staff drilled the team in the fundamentals, and on the eve of the season opener, the players knew that there were few, if any, that could touch them on the court. The starting six of the 1993 team was as skilled and as physically gifted as any Rambler team before or since. Playing outside hitters were 6Õ6Ó All-Stater Matt Schabes, the Catholic LeagueÕs most devastating weapons, as well as 6Õ1Ó Lionel Ebeling and 6Õ2Ó Bill Pawlikowski. In the middle stood the blockers, 6Õ3Ó All-Stater Patrick Wright and 6Õ7Ó Eugene Leko. Last but most certainly not least was the indispensable setter, junior Jack Murphy. Backed by a resilient bench Ð Peter Ahern, Gabriel Marchesini, Marko Andrus, Paul Valaitis, David Hiltebrand, Craig Franz, James Conlon, Mark Lim, and Oliver Plunkett Ð Loyola swept undefeated through the regular season, winning three major invitationals and a Chicago Catholic League championship along the way. By mid-season, the Ramblers were ranked number one, and they wore the designation with pride and confidence. They played a multi-dimensional brand of volleyball, equally assured on offense and defense, led by a veteran, savvy group of highly skilled players, and guided by arguably the best coach in the state. After beating rival New Trier in the first round of the IHSA playoffs, the Ramblers prepared for a second-round match with Glenbrook North, a team they had beaten three times during the regular season. Alas, LoyolaÕs quest for a state title shattered in devastating fashion when the Ramblers found themselves on the losing end of a tough three-setter. The 1993 Volleyball Team closed its season of glory and heartbreak with a 33-1 record. Five seniors who had known next to nothing about the game four years earlier had risen to the pinnacle of Illinois volleyball. In doing so, they had put their stamp on a program on the rise and proclaimed the 1993 teamÕs legacy as the greatest volleyball team in Loyola Academy history.