It may take a little more time before St. Francis setters totally click with the team's balanced attack of hitters, but even so the Spartans had more than their share of impressive kills in Monday night's season opener.
Host St. Francis started the nonconference match against Glenbard North a little sluggish and trailed 10-8 following a hitting error. But the Spartans, who were 25-11 last spring, then rattled off six straight points before a Panthers timeout and proceeded to extend the run to 13-1 en route to taking Game 1 25-19 and following that up with another 25-19 triumph to complete the sweep in Wheaton.
Middle hitter Jeff Jendryk was a dominant net force with 8 kills and 7 blocks, while Patrick Flood added 7 kills from his outside hitter spot.
"I think we weren't really ready for a big game at the start, but after we got a few points we got it going and we got the win," said Jendryk, who had a couple kills and a couple blocks in the opener but saved his best for last on Monday. "I was telling my setter that if the set's there give it to me, but at the end of the game my team was good with the passing and they were setting us up pretty good."
That they were.
After the Spartans were guilty of four hits and Glenbard North closed to within 20-18 in the second game, Jendryk took over. First he had a soaring kill in the middle for a 21-18 lead, then with the score 22-19 Spartans, Jendryk got the hosts to a match point with back-to-pack powerful full swing smashes to the floor to make it 24-19. Thanks to a nice dig by Robert Smith, the Spartans then closed out the game and the match after a Glenbard North attack went deep.
"Obviously, we're a big offensive team," said Smith, who had 13 assists in the match. "But we're working real hard on our defense and when we get the balls there it makes it easier for me to set up our big hitters, but everybody's hungry and wants the ball."
Matt Metzler and Greg Churney each added 5 kills for the Spartans, while Josef Santos paced the defense with 9 digs and Alex Shulski contributed 9 assists.
For the Panthers, junior Ryan Schwitchenberg had 8 kills and Matt Nyguyen 4 kills to pace the attack, while setter Pasquale Fiduccia had 2 kills and 15 assists.
"They have some great hitters and a big front line," Panthers coach Dedra DeBenedetti said of the Spartans. "We weren't adjusting and against a team like that you have to be smart and you have to adjust."