Boys Volleyball: St. Rita falls in quarterfinals
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media June 1, 2012 4:46PM
Matt Svetlecich, of Minooka, eyes a shot past St. Rita's Tommy Stark. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2012 10:57AM
In getting to the state tournament for the second straight year, St. Rita was no stranger to adversity this season, claiming comeback wins in its sectional semifinal and championship.
The Mustangs found themselves in a similar hole during Friday’s state quarterfinal at Hoffman Estates High School, but the deficit proved to be too much. St. Rita fell to Minooka 25-23, 23-25, 25-18.
“This match was what we saw a lot this season,” St. Rita coach Ryan Biros said. “The outcome was different, but we played from behind in a lot of matches. It was just a little bit too much of a deficit today.”
The only team in this year’s quarterfinals to advance that far a season ago, St. Rita (25-15) matched its 2011 appearance with a Friday loss. John Johnson (10 kills), Dan O’Keefe (12 digs, 8 kills), Billy White (8 kills), Tom McDermott (31 assists), Tommy Stark (7 kills) and Andrew Bartasius (12 digs) paced St. Rita.
“As a program we’ve come a long way from no one knowing St. Rita to us going here in back-to-back years,” Stark said, “and as a player, I felt like I developed more because of that state experience last year.”
The Mustangs used kills from Johnson and McDermott to go up 20-16 in Game 1, but Minooka (37-2) answered. The Indians took the lead on a Ryan Bauer service run (6 service points) to go up 24-21 and, despite two quick Rita points, closed the game with a Rick Bishop kill.
“We’ll probably all think about that for a while because we should have taken that game,” Biros said. “This atmosphere is different from our home gym. It brings you back to some of your old habits.”
Having won Game 2 with balanced contributions, St. Rita was unable to roll the momentum into the third game. Minooka dominated at the net, racking up six block kills. The Indians held their biggest lead at 20-10.
“They just kept throwing up those blocks at the pin, and I was trying to hit cross (the court),” Johnson said. “Their kid was 6-foot-9, so I didn’t want to attack that. He got the best of me that game.”
White (2 kills, service ace) and Johnson (kill) sparked a mini-run as St. Rita drew to within five points, but the struggles early proved to be too much of a deficit. Minooka closed on a Phil Hannon block and a service ace.
“We tried and played some of the best defense we’ve ever played but couldn’t come out on top,” Biros said.
The appearance at state was the sixth overall for St. Rita, which will lose Johnson, Stark and Bartasius. McDermott, White, O’Keefe, and Kevin Banky figure to lead a strong group for the Mustangs next season.
“I think it’s a big experience making it here these last two years,” McDermott said. “Making it three years? We’ve got that experience to hopefully push it through.”
Minooka was led by Nick Vertin’s 14 kills. Bishop (10 kills), Phil Hannon (32 assists) and Chad Warren (14 digs) also contributed.