St. Francis handles Montini; rematch with Neuqua Valley set
In Monday's regional opener, host St. Francis took care of business against Montini, but then still had a little more to do on the volleyball court before calling it a night.
The Spartans made quick work of a young Montini squad 25-12, 25-8 to advance to Tuesday's semifinal in Wheaton against Neuqua Valley, the No. 8 seed in the Wheaton Warrenville Sectional. But No. 10 St. Francis (24-12) stuck around for a good 20 minutes afterward to prepare for a Neuqua Valley squad which has beaten it twice this spring in tight matches.
"We were thinking a little about our match tomorrow since Neuqua has beaten us twice this year," Spartans senior outside hitter Joey Trunk admitted. "But we wanted to take care of business without really looking too much ahead."
In the opener, St. Francis led just 16-10 following a hitter error. Along the way the Broncos also had picked up a pair of points on missed Spartans serves, a bad pass and on another off target Spartans attack.
But the one-win Broncos never stood a chance from there as St. Francis closed out the opener on a 9-2 run and then stormed ahead 16-4 in Game 2 en route to an easy victory. Brendan Roberts and Tim Olsen each had 5 kills in a balanced St. Francis offense.
"We just had the playoff jitters in the beginning but then we played our game and took care of it from there," said Trunk, who had a match-high 6 kills and 8 service points on Monday.
While not as young as Montini, which does not have a senior on its roster, the Spartans do start a pair of sophomores in setter Robert Smith and middle Jeff Jendryk, and also rely on several juniors. Even so, the hosts were just too tough for the smaller, less experienced Broncos.
"We're in the rebuilding stage," said Montini coach Steve Dowjotas, who graduated nine seniors last spring. "We lack on the height side but our guys compete and work hard. That's just a great team over there and they're always a great program."
Spartans coach Mike Lynch, whose squad lost to Glenbard East in a regional final last year, knows his team has to be at the top of its game to survive this rugged regional.
"It's a loaded regional and we know from here on out every game is going to be tough," Lynch said.
In Monday's earlier match, Naperville Central outlasted Nazareth in three games to advance to a matchup with the top-seeded Tigers at 6:30 pm Tuesday. The Neuqua Valley-St. Francis showdown will be played afterward.
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