Girls Volleyball: Mantas sisters — Lexi and Ari — a twin force for Stagg
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org September 4, 2014 8:00PM
Twin sisters Lexi (left) and Ari Mantas are the senior court leaders for Stagg in 2014. | Tony Baranek/Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 6, 2014 6:16AM
Lexi Mantas is a little taller.
Ari Mantas is a little louder.
They mesh well together on the volleyball court for Stagg, so well it almost seems they have a private brainwave connection.
“Twin telepathy?” Lexi Mantas said with a laugh. “No, no, no. But we do help each other out a lot on like what shots to make and where to place the ball. We just really encourage each other the whole entire time.”
Together, they’re a twin shot of senior volleyball talent and two of the reasons the Chargers are hoping to contend for the SouthWest Suburban Blue title in 2014.
In Tuesday’s 29-27, 25-15 victory over Queen of Peace, Ari had eight kills and nine digs, Lexi seven kills and nine digs.
“Ari and Lexi are a huge force for Stagg volleyball,” Chargers coach Deanna Storino said. “Ari never fails to bring an irreplaceable energy to practice and games. Lexi has been and continues to be an all-around stat leader for the team.
“The two of them make up two-thirds of our leadership this year as senior captains. It’s so fun to have another set of twins come through Stagg’s volleyball program.”
Lexi and Ari Mantas are following one of the best 1-2 twin sister volleyball combinations in Southland volleyball history, Jill and Ali Conrad.
Graduates in 2013, the Conrads were the leaders on Stagg teams that were second in conference in 2011, and in ’12 won 32 matches, went undefeated in the SouthWest Suburban Red and advanced to a Class 4A sectional final.
Lexi Mantas was a sophomore starter on the 2012 team, while Ari was on the sophomore level before being pulled up for the state playoffs.
“(At first) it felt really weird having another set of twins,” Lexi said. “But they were really nice, and they were really good, too. So I thought it was really cool having them on the team.
“Then they would be really nice to us and tell us everything, like how it is to play with a twin, being on a varsity sport and other things.”
Lexi and Ari Mantas are alike in many ways, not so alike in others.
“It’s kind of funny how Ari is basically Lexi’s mom in volleyball,” Storino said. “Ari has to remind Lexi about things and always makes sure handouts go to Ari so they actually make it home.”
Their roles on the court are pretty diverse as well.
“Lexi has been on varsity for four years how so she has that role of being the ‘best player,’ ” Storino said. “She’s the first go-to player.
“Ari brings something totally different. She’s loud and energetic and can huddle the team up and get them going. She also can be a go-to player, but I think as twins it’s important to keep them separate as players.”
In 2013, both had breakout seasons. Lexi put up All-Area numbers with a team-leading 303 kills and 275 digs. Ari was first on the team with 30 aces, second behind her sister with 173 kills and third-ranking with 104 service points.
Lexi will play college ball at Kent State.
“Kent State was with me (observing) throughout my whole club career,” Lexi said. “They stayed with me through every match and have a great program.
“I got letters from various colleges asking me to go to their campuses. Kent State was the one that really stood out to me. I love their campus and they have a great coach (Don Gromala).”
Ari is not committed to a college, and may join her sister at Kent State to pursue a marketing career.
“I’ll see if anything comes in this year from certain schools, but so far nothing has really stuck out,” Ari said. “I probably will be going to Kent State. They said if I wanted I can keep volleyball in my life by becoming a student manager. That was very nice of them.”
Stagg, meanwhile, has them for one more year.
“I know we have a great team,” Ari said. “I hope to make sectionals and that the whole team can come together for all of those important moments.”