By Phil Brozynski
Top-ranked Providence won the Deerfield round-robin tournament Saturday, but it wasn’t easy. The Celtics had not played in 10 days and the rustiness showed against a very strong field that included Deerfield and Rusty Lavaja and improving St. Charles North team.
"This was a tough day for us,” Providence coach Cindy Olczyk said. “We worked hard to get back in sync with our playing and our efforts paid off. Our defense did a great job of keeping us in some amazing and very tight games.”
Providence (23-0, 9-0 in the Catholic League) got a big lift from Brian Urchell, who stepped in after the Celtics’ starting libero, John Cichy, was injured.
“Our three captains, (Dan) Ruzich, (Eric) Daliege and (Jonathan) Gustafson, did an excellent job keeping their teammates focused and driving hard to win in each match,” Olczyk said. “We are very proud of the entire team for playing so wll at this tournament."
Providence defeated Addison Trail, 20-25, 25-21, 25-20; St. Charles North 19-25, 25-20, 26-24; Joliet 25-14, 25-20; Libertyville 25-10, 25-23; and Deerfield 23-25, 25-16, 25-20.
Gustafson led the Celtics with 173 assists, 51 service points, 10 aces and five kills; Daliege added 44 service points, two aces, 36 kills and 11 blocks; Ruzich had 44 kills, 168 digs and five blocks; Hayden Grove had 61 kills and nine blocks; and Chase Pavlick contributed 102 digs and 14 kills.
Providence faces another tough test Monday when it travels to Wheaton to take on St. Francis, which won the Lakefront Challenge at Latin on Saturday to improve to 29-3.
◘ Marist fans are holding their breath regarding the status of two of the RedHawks starters, setter Ryan Thomas and middle Matt Jercich. Both were injured during Saturday’s Richards Invitational.
Thompson suffered what appeared to be a serious wrist injury during game two of the RedHawks’ loss to Lake Forest in the championship match, and Jercich went down in serious pain with an ankle injury early in game three.
Six-foot-4 sophomore Dave Nelson stepped in for Jercich and delivered three kills and a block in the third game, but Thomas’ absence forced coach Bob St. Leger to employ 6-6 sophomore Joe Smalzer as his second setter.
◘ Glenbard East will try to wrap up its first-ever DuPage Valley Conference title this week when it hosts West Chicago on Tuesday and visits Naperville Central on Thursday.
Glenbard East can do no worse than tie for the title no matter what happens. But the Rams can win the title outright with a win over West Chicago or a loss by Central at Wheaton South on Tuesday.