Boys Volleyball: Tony Natalino, Matt Mead help Marist close out Providence
Updated: March 20, 2012 8:30PM
When teammate Jimmy Mead went down last spring with a season-ending knee injury, Marist’s Tony Natalino was thrust into a starting role at middle.
The then-junior responded, earning All-Conference honors for the RedHawks.
As a senior, Natalino will be a huge key for Marist’s success, and the early returns were nothing but positive Tuesday in his team’s season opener.
With seven kills and assisting on the game-winning block, Natalino helped Marist to a 25-20, 20-25, 25-22 win in Mount Greenwood.
“I’m excited to have a bigger role because I get to know what Jim felt where your team is counting on you,” Natalino said. “I’m not using to play with another blocker too, but I’m getting used to it.”
Mike Schreiber (24 assists), John Yerkes (10 digs, six kills) and Matt Mead (seven kills, three aces) contributed for the RedHawks.
Marty Ross led Providence (0-1) with 11 kills and four blocks to go with efforts from Tim Becker (seven digs), Brendan Surane (six blocks) and Dan Niemiec (14 assists).
“We want to play a good team to start, and that’s what they are,” Marist coach Bob St. Leger said. “We want to figure out ways to win, and get used to that feeling. As the year goes on, you’re used to it, and it comes natural.”
Having won Tuesday’s opening game, Marist struggled through the second and much of the third. With Providence up 18-16, Natalino and Mead stepped up.
Mead had two kills and a block late while Natalino had a kill while combining with Schreiber for the game-winning block as Marist closed on a 9-4 run.
“We’ve practiced those late-game situations so much,” Natalino said. “I don’t know if we wanted it more, but we executed down the stretch.”
For Providence, Ross knows what the Celtics can work on.
“It’s a nice way to know what we look like as a team early on,” Ross said. “Sometimes a loss can be as good or better than a win.”