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High School Boys Volleyball: Marist on the cusp of another trip to state

By Randy Whalen
Correspondent

Marist is one win away from another trip to the state tournament and the chance at a second consecutive title.

But they will first have to get past another perennially elite program to get there.

The RedHawks will play Lincoln-Way East on on Tuesday, June 14 for the Marist Sectional championship in matchup of the two most recent state champions. The winner will kick off the state tourney at 10 a.m. Friday with a quarterfinal match against either Edwardsville or Lockport, who played for the Minooka Sectional title.

With the 2020 season canceled because of the pandemic, Marist won the last boys state volleyball championship in 2019, following the Griffins’ run to the title in 2018.

The RedHawks advanced to the sectional title game via a two-set vanquishing of Homewood-Flossmoor, 25-26, 25-10, on June 12. Marist (27-3) never trailed and was tied only once, when it was 1-1 during the opening set. Ahead 5-3, senior right side hitter Nyherowo Omene (8 kills, 2 aces) had back-to-back kills to trigger a 5-1 burst as the RedHawks pulled away.

They opened the second set with the first five points, raced out to a 10-2 lead, and coasted.

H-F (14-12) was playing in its first sectional since 2016.

Senior outside hitter Kyle Pietrzak (7 kills, 2 blocks), sophomore middle hitter Mike Uldrych (5 kills, 2 blocks), senior setter Neil Riggio (15 assists), and senior libero Matt Monahan (12 digs) were also big for the RedHawks.

“We’re definitely happy it worked out and we have to use our home court to our advantage,” Omene said. “Our goal is just to get one or two percent better every match. We don’t give ourselves that tangible goal of a state championship. We just want to get better every time.”

Marist coach Jordan Vidovic agreed.

“We just want to feed of the consistency that we’ve worked on,” he said. “We just want to visualize, use our variety, and help each other out. We just have to trust each other and not get caught up in something else.”

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