St. Francis senior Robert Smith entered his fourth year on the varsity roster Wednesday evening, and the veteran setter got right to work as his team's top distributor.
Smith dished out 25 assists as seven players finished with at least one kill during a 25-13, 25-16 win over visiting Bartlett in the season opener for both teams.
Greg Churney led St. Francis with 9 kills, while teammate Jeff Jendryk added 7. The Spartans totaled 23 kills on the evening.
"Every single one of our hitters had at least one kill tonight," St. Francis coach Mike Lynch said. "Jeff (Jendryk) opens up a lot of opportunities when teams have to key on him, and Robert (Smith) has the ability to move the ball around at the right times, which gets everyone involved."
Smith was quick to lay praise on his teammates at the front of the net.
"We definitely have the hitters this year, especially Jeff (Jendryk)," Smith said. "He's such a force at the net that it really opens up the entire offense. Everyone keys on him and it makes the setting decisions very easy for me."
St. Francis jumped out to a 9-2 lead in Game 1 as Jendryk finished with 2 kills and a block during that opening stretch.
Bartlett's Dominik Stanisz's two blocks as well as an ace from Mike Gulczynski, coupled with a St. Francis attack error and service error, trimmed the Spartans' lead to 10-7.
The Hawks got as close as one at 13-12 on a block by Gulczynski, but St. Francis closed the game on a 12-1 run, scoring half those points off of Bartlett errors.
The Hawks were plagued by 19 total errors on the evening, including six service errors and four net violations.
"Too many errors," Bartlett coach Bob Schwantz said. "They went on a 12-1 run to finish the first game. You can't make errors against a team like that with players like (Jendryk). Everybody makes errors, but net violations we've got to fix if we're going to do anything this season. We just have to clean up our side of the net."
In Game 2 St. Francis extended a 14-10 lead to 20-11 as Smith set four Spartans kills in that stretch.
St. Francis earned the game point as Jendryk's block on an attack attempt by Ricky Foster ended the contest.