Richards closing in on conference crownReavis' Christopher Rusznica spikes the ball against Richards' defense. l Gary Middendorf~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 9, 2011 9:26PM
Very much in the hunt for the South Suburban volleyball title, the Richards Bulldogs are well aware of the conference drought the program has been through.
How long has it been? No one on the team was alive the previous time the Bulldogs won conference, the 1992 squad that also won the state title.
The 2011 squad, though, has conference as just one of its goals.
After losing to Reavis last week, Richards took out the Rams in a three-game thriller Monday, winning 19-25, 25-20, 25-21 in the South Suburban Red.
“The last few years conference has been one of our goals, and right now it’s our biggest,” Richards’ Jeremy Norton said. “We want sectionals too, but we lost to Reavis, and we wanted to beat their butts tonight.”
With hitters coming from all over the floor, Mutasem Dainah had a season-high 12 kills for Richards (16-6, 12-2). Also contributing in a balanced attack were Norton (8 kills), Ryan Sautkus (18 digs), Robert Fleming (8 kills, 4 blocks), Nadeem Razick (28 assists) and Jack Kendryna (6 kills).
“We stressed conference a lot early on, and we’re realizing now that we need to have a bigger mind-set,” Richards coach Troy Grevengoed said.
Facing an early deficit against a charging Reavis team in the third game, it appeared Richards might fall back toward the pack in conference.
After a timeout and trailing 10-5, the Bulldogs came out firing. Fleming had four kills and a block as part of a 7-0 run.
“We just feed off energy,” Norton said. “Off one big block we could have a 10-point run. When we get a run like that we can be unstoppable. We don’t let anything drop.”
As part of this match-closing run, Norton and the Bulldogs let very little drop. Leading 22-21, Razick had a block and Reavis hit into the net before Norton closed it out with his eighth kill of the match.
Reavis (11-12, 9-4) was led by Jose Vazquez’s 23 assists. Also chipping in were efforts from Ruben Puha (8 kills) and Will Ruiz (6 kills, 12 blocks).
“I think it’s a lack of confidence in what they can do,” Reavis coach Bob Wielgos said. “At times we look fantastic, and other times we look like fifth through eighth grade teams. We just have to straighten the mistakes.”\