Marist won the Marist Sectional and will play Payton on Friday, May 31 in the state quarterfinals. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Marist won the Marist Sectional and will play Payton on Friday, May 31 in the state quarterfinals. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Boys Volleyball | Marist tops Jones, advances to state quarterfinals

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By Xavier Sanchez
Correspondent

For the first time since 2019, Marist will play in the IHSA state finals.

The RedHawks (36-2) beat Jones, 25-13, 25-13, for their 17th straight victory and a Marist Sectional championship on May 28 in Mount Greenwood. They will face Payton in the state quarterfinals at 11:30 a.m. Friday, May 31 at Hoffman Estates High School.

The state semifinals and championship match will be held the following day in the same place. Marist would play the winner of Lyons v. Glenbard West.

The sectional title is Marist’s first since their run to the state championship in 2019.

During the 17-match winning streak, the RedHawks have played a third set only twice. Both were in wins over two-time defending state champion Glenbard West on April 27 and May 9.

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Marist’s Luke Bfrannigna blocks a kill attempt during the RedHawks sectional championship victory over Jones on May 28. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

The RedHawks cruised in the first set as they held the lead from start to finish. Jones came out stronger in the second set and even held a brief lead, but Marist coach Jordan Vidovic called a timeout with the score tied at seven.

“We lost a little bit of the detail that we came out with and played a couple loose points,” Vidovic said. “We needed a mental reminder of what we were trying to do and get back to controlling the court and put the ball on them.”

Senior captain and outside hitter Luke Brannigan said the tactic helped the RedHawks regain their focus and go on the attack.

“We lost sight of that in the mix of being energetic and having a great lead in the first set,” Brannigan said. “In the second set, we lost our focus a little but we gained it back and finished strong.”

Brannigan finished with six kills and five digs. Co-captain and junior setter Christian Teresi had a team-high 11 assists to go with seven kills and five aces.

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Marist’s Nathen Toth serves during the RedHawks win over Jones on May 28 in the Marist Sectional championship match. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

While advancing to the state quarterfinals is sweet, Teresi said he is going to maintain his focus.

“I am actually looking toward these upcoming practices,” Teresi said. “I want to see what we can do to get better toward our next game at state. We have a lot to still work on.”

Senior Ethan Kuziela had six kills and eight assists. Senior outside Nathen Toth had five kills and junior Rorey Donnelly had 11 digs.

After losses at sectionals the past three postseasons, a combination of preparation, experience, leadership and talent has been a formula for success in 2024.

“It’s huge to have guys that played in this game multiple times,” Vidovic said of the seniors who played in sectional title matches in 2021 and 2022. “They knew how to prepare better. They knew what they needed to do to prepare for the game to be confident when stepping on the court. Our younger guys really leaned on that to get ready and everyone seemed to be on the same page.

Brannigan agreed.

“The extra years of experience and what we have been able to witness has put us over the top,” he said.

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