Home News Jeremiah Aro lifts Sandburg past St. Rita

Jeremiah Aro lifts Sandburg past St. Rita

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Jeremiah Aro came to Sandburg as a freshman figuring basketball was going to be his sport.

He was raring to go but missed that season in eighth grade at Century Junior High because it was cancelled due to concerns during the pandemic.

As a result of the downtime, Aro said Sandburg’s basketball coaches urged him to take up volleyball because it would help with his jumping ability.

“I was doing volleyball for fun and for basketball,” he said.

The basketball plan took a U-turn when Aro discovered he had the tools to be pretty dominant in the sport that was just supposed to be “for fun.”

The 6-foot-6 junior right-side hitter put down 15 kills and added three aces Tuesday night to help the Eagles pull off a 24-26, 25-11, 25-16 nonconference victory over St. Rita in Chicago.

Will Ashum chipped in with eight kills and three blocks for Sandburg (4-4), while Dominik Szklarz tallied 30 assists and Myles Aquino came up with 14 digs, five assists and three aces.

Lucas Olszewski led St. Rita (3-2) with 11 kills. Aidan Peloquin had seven kills.

As a sophomore, Aro was an explosive player at times. But after the season, he began playing club with Frankfort-based Ultimate and his game took off. He’s planning to take an unofficial visit to Princeton in the upcoming weeks.

“I’ve seen massive improvement,” Aquino said of Aro. “He has a lot more reliability and has more confidence, too. I feel like we can depend on him a lot more.

“He’s a lot more experienced, and I think that after that club season, he knows what to do with the ball. He has really been consistent.”

Sandburg's Jeremiah Aro, middle, hits through a block against St. Rita during a nonconference match in Chicago on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (Jeff Vorva / Daily Southtown)
Sandburg’s Jeremiah Aro, middle, hits through a block against St. Rita during a nonconference match in Chicago on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (Jeff Vorva / Daily Southtown)

Sandburg coach David Vales is amazed at Aro’s improvement.

“The sky is literally the limit for him,” Vales said. “Just being able to play all-year round has made him a better player.”

St. Rita certainly took notice of Aro.

“He’s a phenomenal player,” Peloquin said. “I know him from Ultimate, and he’s really talented. He’s definitely their guy. He played a great game. He has a bright future ahead, and I’m rooting for him.”

Aro is hoping for a bright future for the Eagles after the team split their first eight matches.

Against the Mustangs, Sandburg led 17-12 in the first game but lost. That could have spelled disaster, but the Eagles dominated the second game. Leading again 17-12 in the third, they didn’t let that one slip away.

Vales said during some of the previous losses, Sandburg took leads but couldn’t hang on. Aro sees Tuesday’s effort as a good sign and thinks that could bode well for the rest of the season.

“Even though we didn’t get off to the best start, this could be the worse we’re ever going to be,” Aro said. “We can only go up from here.”

St. Rita's Aidan Peloquin hits the ground chasing down a ball against Sandburg during a nonconference match in Chicago on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (Jeff Vorva / Daily Southtown)
St. Rita’s Aidan Peloquin hits the ground chasing down a ball against Sandburg during a nonconference match in Chicago on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (Jeff Vorva / Daily Southtown)

With a front line of Aro and fellow juniors JT Snider, Ashum and setter Szklarz, it’s not a stretch to expect the Eagles to trend upward from here.

“I see a lot of potential for us,” Aquino said. “We’re going to progress a lot through this season. I’m really excited for the playoffs to see how far we can take ourselves.”

So, the two reasons Aro began playing volleyball were to improve on his jumping and to have fun.

As for the jumping ability? He has touched 11 feet, 11 inches, which makes him tough to defend.

As for the fun? It’s still there.

“I love spending time with my teammates — I have a lot of fun with them,” he said. “Even having a pregame meal, just simple things like that, I like that a lot.”

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.



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