Boys Volleyball: Minooka regroups, wipes out St RitaPhil Hannon, of Minooka, celebrates match point against St. Rita at the Boys Volleyball State Quarterfinals, Friday, June 1st, 2012 in Hoffman Estates, IL. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 1, 2012 8:07PM
Minooka coach Janel Grzetich had it easier than her players. All she had to do was stand on the sidelines and watch.
But she still was a nervous wreck.
Minooka rallied from a 20-16 deficit in Game 1, then bounced back from Game 2 loss to defeat St. Rita 25-23, 23-25, 25-18 Friday and advance to the semifinals of the IHSA boys state volleyball tournament at Hoffman Estates.
Nick Vertin had 14 kills and a block, 6-4 senior Rick Bishop added 10 kills, 6-6 Maalik Walker had five kills and four blocks and Phil Hannon had 32 assists for Minooka, which had trouble passing against the smaller and more aggressive Mustangs.
Bishop said that passing is the first thing to break down when players are nervous.
“I think the big reason our passing was off today was because it was a bigger stage than we are used to,” he said. “When you are nervous, that’s the first thing that goes.”
Grzetich sympathized with her players.
“I don’t want to fault the boys at all because my gosh, I was just standing there, I was not playing, I was just standing there and I was a bundle of nerves,” Grzetich said. “With the crowd there and the noise and the whole intensity of everything.
“When you’re waiting back there for the ball in your head you’re just saying, ‘I hope I make a good pass, please let me make a good pass. We did not pass well today and it’s understandable. Hopefully, we got that game out of the way and we’ll come back tomorrow more relaxed and even more aggressive.”
St. Rita (25-15) used a 9-2 run to grab a 20-16 lead in Game 1, but the Mustangs could not put the Indians away. A Bishop block capped a 7-1 Minooka run, and after St. Rita closed to within 24-23 on a Dan O’Keefe kill, Bishop slipped a ball past two defenders to close out the set.
The Mustangs took another 20-16 lead in Game 2, but this time they held on after Vertin’s kill got Minooka within 24-23. A kill by 5-10 junior Kevin Banky closed out the set for St. Rita, but Minooka wasn’t finished.
“We had some momentum at the end of Game 2,” Bishop said. “We came back and almost had the second game, but they got the last point. But we still had the momentum so we just carried that over into the third game.”
Leading 5-4 in Game 3, Minooka went on a 14-6 run over the next 20 points, and St. Rita cold not recover.
“Our passing was obviously much better in the third game,” Grzetich said. “We normally do a much better job of passing than this match. We were trying to get Bishop the ball more than he got it. Hopefully, our passing will be a little better tomorrow.”
John Johnson led St. Rita with 10 kills and an ace, Billy White and O’Keefe had eight kills and Thomas McDermott added 31 assists and four kills.
“This match was pretty much what it’s been like throughout the season, only the outcome was different,” St. Rita first-year coach Ryan Biros said. “We’ve played from behind most of our matches. We just had too much of a deficit today.
“I’m not taking anything away from Minooka,” he added. “They put up a big block. We played hard and tried to come back, but it was too little, too late. We worked hard and played some of the best defense we’ve played all year. We just couldn’t come out on top.”