Griffiths Becomes Main Focus of Rolling Meadows' Opponents
Clarkson, Jeff, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Jeff Clarkson Daily Herald Correspondent
The situation for Rolling Meadows' volleyball changed dramatically from the last couple of years.
However, Justin Griffiths' play remains a constant.
Gone from the team is all-state middle blocker Ted Groves, who is playing for Loyola University on scholarship.
Loyola is one of the few universities in the country that give scholarships for men's volleyball.
Groves and Griffiths formed an outstanding duo of middle blockers that took the Mustangs downstate twice, including a second-place finish in the state tournament last year.
The two stars last year were awarded an honor that only four other players in the state received when they were named to the first team six-player all-state tournament team.
Griffiths now is the main focus of opponents' attention in the middle, but he still is managing to put up outstanding numbers.
Through last week, Griffiths posted 106 blocks, 186 kills, and his hitting average is .337.
"He is arguably the best player we've ever had," said Rolling Meadows coach Mike Duellman, the only coach the six-year-old team has had.
"He is the best blocker we've ever had. He is doing this as a marked man. Hitting percentage in volleyball is like hitting in baseball.
"His hitting would be like (White Sox) Frank Thomas hitting without anybody behind him."
Duellman and Griffiths agree that without Groves, Griffiths has had to improve his play.
"I am a more complete player," Griffiths said. "Last year, I hit only three different sets, but this year I am hitting more.
"Blocking-wise, I am doing well, and my hitting is coming along, but I always see room for improvement."
"To Justin's credit, he had a lot to deal with because his expectations are so high," said Duellman. "But he has been handling it real well.
"They triple block him, they force us to go other places, but he has been playing great. He is our go-to player when the going gets tough."
As a sophomore, Griffiths earned a starting assignment on the front row, but last year he began playing all-around and continues to do so this season.
"Last year, Ted and Justin played opposite each other. We always had one of them in the front row. Our problem this year is we don't have another middle to take over for Ted," Duellman said.
"Between the two of them, Justin had a few more blocks. …