Boys volleyball: Roche, Marmion muscle up against Montini
Marmion senior John Roche is intent on adding to his highlight reel.
A three-year standout at linebacker, Roche's boulder-sized shoulders and strong legs make him an imposing presence on the football field.
But the 5-foot-11, 210-pounder stands out even more -- in play and stature -- on the volleyball court.
Roche tallied 11 kills to carry the Cadets to a 25-23, 25-23 win over Montini in Chicago Catholic League play on Thursday in Lombard. John Demos had 6 kills, Christian Damico collected 5 kills and Zachary Minnis finished with 22 assists for the Cadets (11-5, 2-0).
Roche admitted his size, especially due to the sleeveless jersey, does raise a few eyebrows among volleyball opponents.
"I get a lot of confused looks," Roche said. "It's funny."
Roche, an outside hitter, started playing volleyball in his freshman year. He credited his friend, Mark Timmons, for introducing him to the sport. They grew up together and also played beach volleyball. Timmons is a sophomore outside hitter at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina.
But Roche, a North Central College football recruit, said his early start didn't foretell a long future in the sport.
"I was very timid when I started and didn't know what I was doing and didn't feel very comfortable on the court," he said.
Those days are long gone. Roche has grown into a physical force at the net, raising his season total to 113 kills and 8 aces. His string of 4 kills midway through the first game energized the Cadets. He closed out the opening game with a kill and provided a key ace for a 24-21 lead in the second game.
"Everybody is after John in the spring to play sports, but he came out right away in his sophomore year for volleyball," Marmion coach Barb Ebert said. "He's a joy. He's the most disciplined senior that I've met. He does his workouts in the morning for football so he can play volleyball. He's been a great example for the boys, a very positive leader and practices what he preaches."
The Broncos sorely missed the steady play of Abe Husmillo, who remains sidelined with an ankle injury. Mark Zheng and Danny Cyze both finished with 12 kills for the Broncos (7-7, 2-1). Montini coach Brian Opoka said he's excited for the next two matches against Marmion, both in Aurora.
"We played much better volleyball today than have been the last couple of games," he said. "Marmion played a really good game. They were flawless."