WHEATON – Jonathan Orech pumped his fist to salute each of St. Charles North’s points against St. Francis in a tight boys volleyball match Monday.
Before that, he elevated and swung his arms with ease, all while looking a bit more suave than the rest by virtue of his white headband.
Orech’s performance in a 22-25, 25-21, 25-23 road win naturally prompted screaming for a North Stars team that knocked off the Spartans for the first time in coach Todd Weimer’s four seasons. Trouble was, much of what came out of the ailing Orech’s mouth was either painful or barely audible.
“I can’t really talk, so in the warmups and stuff, I had to tell other people to shout what plays I wanted to run, stuff like that,” Orech said. “I’ve been sick for the past three days, but I mean, it didn’t stop me today.”
Orech contributed 11 kills, 12 digs and four blocks for the North Stars, who never trailed after the opening game.
North (12-2) enjoyed a comfortable lead for much of the third game and only squirmed when St. Francis’ Josef Santos served seven successive points to create a 23-all tie.
A fidgety Weimer, who joked he’ll have to fit an emergency trip to the dry cleaner’s before today’s Upstate Eight Conference River opener against Elgin, called timeout.
“Just kind of easygoing,” North Stars libero Ryan Dal Degan said. “Asked what we were running, switched it up a little bit, just made sure we went out there and executed like we know we’re capable of doing.”
St. Francis (14-3) watched a Greg Churney spike land out of bounds on the next point. The match ended when North’s Jack Harbaugh and Zach Ziesmer teamed on a block of Jeff Jendryk, who joined teammate Patrick Flood with 11 kills.
After the match, Spartans coach Mike Lynch gestured to the team motto on the Spyglass Center scoreboard, suggesting the team expected to be given the victory instead of earning it.
The Spartans were coming off a busy week – including a win against fellow power Benet and an unbeaten run to a tournament title at Streamwood.
Lynch did not offer the schedule as an excuse.
“Volleyball is you cram those 35 regular-season matches into, like, a seven-week season and then the playoffs start,” Lynch said. “It goes real quick.”
The already-vocal Dal Degan (14 digs) approached a handful of teammates about stepping up considering Orech’s condition. Orech said he briefly pondered not playing, but “didn’t even feel it anymore” after warmups.
Kevin Beach (17 digs, seven kills) and Harbaugh (seven kills) sparked North, as well.
The match marked the final meeting of former schoolmates from St. Patrick in St. Charles, as Jimmy Vainisi and Dal Degan of North opposed Matt Metzler and Alex Shulski of St. Charles.
Shulski and fellow St. Charles product Robert Smith had 14 assists apiece.