Marist opened its 2011 boys volleyball season with a mission of defending its state championship. The Redhawks took a first step with a victory over Providence Catholic on Tuesday night in New Lenox, but it was anything but easy.
Marist won the first game 25-21, Providence took the second game 25-23, and the Redhawks captured the match with a 25-18 victory in Game 3.
Senior middle blocker Jim Mead led the Redhawks with nine kills and 13 blocks. His kill late in the third game gave the Redhawks a 23-16 lead.
"We've been practicing a lot," Mead said. "Me and my setter (Sean Connelly) have good chemistry together."
Marist took a 7-4 lead in the first game, but the Celtics (0-1) fought back to tie the game at 20-20 before the Redhawks surged to the win.
Providence trailed 17-13 in the second game, but a kill by junior middle hitter Marty Ross helped swing the momentum back in the Celtics’ favor. Ross added a kill and an ace to help the Celtics take Game 2.
"I felt we played hard," Ross said. "We just let a couple of runs get to us. It was an exciting game overall and it just gives us more motivation to work harder."
Senior opposite hitter Kevin Morrison had seven kills for the Redhawks. Senior setter Sean Connelly and junior John Yerks each had six kills.
Ross led the Celtics with eight kills and an ace on the night. Senior outside hitter Casey Contorno had seven kills.
Providence will travel to Marist on Friday to play in the Marist Invitational. As the Redhawks get set to host the invitational this weekend, head coach Bob St. Leger said his team still has things to work on.
"Our defensive blocking needs to get a lot better," he said. "Defensively, we didn't really hold our alignment like we would like to. We were running forward a little bit when we shouldn't have. We just need to be a little more mentally aware of where we need to be and we'll be fine."