Boys Volleyball: George Burgi’s patience pays off for Oak Park-River Forest
Updated: May 14, 2012 10:30PM
George Burgi watched and waited for his opportunity last season.
That opportunity came this season. And Burgi isn’t alone.
With only one returning starter back from last year’s state quarterfinalist, three reserves from that team have led the Huskies to a near duplicate season. OPRF (21-13, 3-2 West Suburban Silver) already has as many losses as last year’s state qualifying team entering the regular season finale at 6 p.m. Tuesday at No. 6 Glenbard West (26-6).
Burgi, Mark Carioscio and Ethan Thomas combined for 63 kills last season in bench roles. That total barely topped the entire season total of kills for senior setter Diego Rodriguez-Guerrios (59), who has returned to lead the Huskies to another expected long run in the playoffs.
For the second consecutive season, OPRF has the No. 1 seed in its sectional and opens the postseason at its own regional against 16th-seeded Kenwood or 17th-seeded Cristo Rey at 6:30 p.m. May 22. With a win, the Huskies would play in the regional final at 7 p.m. May 23.
“If anything (the top seed), makes us practice harder,” said Burgi, OPRF’s 6-foot-3 middle hitter. “At least for me, it doesn’t show how the whole team expects nothing but the best from us.”
The Huskies went 2-3 at the Glenbrook North Invitational May 4-5 and end the regular season with only three matches since that tournament ended. Lyons beat OPRF 23-25, 30-28, 25-22 May 8, but OPRF defeated Leyden 25-11, 25-22 May 10.
OPRF is looking for its fifth consecutive regional title and ninth in the last 10 years.
The No. 2 seed in the De La Salle Sectional is neighborhood rival Fenwick (16-7), which won the Catholic League White this season with an 8-0 record.
The Huskies beat Fenwick in last year’s St. Ignatius Sectional semifinal, 25-11, 25-14, when the Friars were an eighth seed.
Burgi admits to learning quite bit while on the sidelines for last year’s run to the state meet at Hoffman Estates. The Huskies’ middle hitters last season were D.J. Valenti and Jim Kasang.
“I was just as dedicated on the floor as I was on the bench last year,” Burgi said.
There is no doubt that Rodriguez-Guerrios is the biggest key to OPRF’s sectional title attempt. But Burgi doesn’t want followers to overlook senior captain Mark Carioscio, who serves as the vocal team leader.
“He puts a lot of time into the team before every game and every practice,” Burgi said.
Burgi, who will attend Southern Illinois University in the fall, is the team’s tallest player at 6-foot-3, but many of OPRF’s opponents have much taller players. Starter Ethan Thomas and reserve John Martin are also 6-3.
“We do not let it faze us as much,” Burgi said. “We can play with big teams like Barrington. We have to take the tall factor out of the equation.”