Boys Volleyball: Richards withstands Eisenhower
Richards’ streak, which is two years in the making, came perilously close to a finish Monday night at Eisenhower.
The Bulldogs, undefeated in the South Suburban Conference through this season and the last, dropped the first game and trailed Eisenhower 12-9 in the second before outside hitters Nick Costa and Edvinas Karalius starting going off.
The pair blasted kills on back-to-back occasions three times over the next 13 points, pushing Richards to a 22-25, 25-21, 25-17 victory.
Karalius finished with 20 kills, Costa had 13 and the Krasich twins, Dan and Eric, chipped in 33 assists and 16 digs, respectively, for Richards (19-3, 13-0).
“In the second game, we were a lot more scrappy, got a lot more touches on blocks and we’re putting balls down,” said Karalius, who stands 6-foot-3, 230 pounds.
“With the streak, you get really scared in games like these that go to three,” said Costa, the reigning conference player of the year. “You just gotta play through it. We we’re trying to overpower the ball at first.”
After a kill by Eisenhower’s Israel Ibarra, middle hitter Angelo Anagnostopoulous gave Richards a 16-14 advantage on a momentum-shifting stuff block. From there, the Bulldogs went on 7-2 run, highlighted by aggressive serves and two kills from Karalius.
“When we play a team like that, we have to serve tough to take their middles out,” Richards coach Troy Grevengoed said. “That was our game plan, because they run most of their offense through their middles.”
Eisenhower coach Stan Natonek agreed.
“Our serve-receive, we just weren’t making passes when we needed to,” he said.
Eisenhower was led by a fantastic performance from libero Alec Esparza (18 digs), whom Natonek said “is an emotional leader.” The Cardinals, underseeded at No. 14 in the upcoming Andrew Sectional, dropped to 16-8, 8-5.
“It’s frustrating, because we’ve been close with them,” Natonek said. “We’ve pushed them, but we just can’t push hard enough. (Karalius) is a load, and (Costa) can put it down.”