Brother Rice played like it was shot out of a cannon Wednesday night against Marist, which shouldn't have come as a surprise with nine of 13 Crusaders ringing in their senior night.
David Kelly tallied five kills and three blocks and Brandon Vida added five kills as Brother Rice routed the RedHawks 25-12, 25-19 for its 23rd-straight victory.
“The fact that we haven’t stagnated and keep rising up to a new level each game is really good,” said Kelly, a senior who ranks No. 2 in his class. “If we keep peaking, I think we’ll have a good shot to make state.”
Kevin Myren added four kills, Matt Gagner notched two blocks and Mitch Weiler had three kills for Brother Rice (33-2), which has seven players signed to play collegiately next season. The team hasn't fallen since a three-set loss to Lincoln-Way East on April 7.
“We all had fun, worked together as a team and executed,” said Vida, a St. Ambrose recruit. “It was a great day.”
Nick O’Gorman paced Marist (15-18) with four kills. Tim Hauser dished 14 assists and Luke Mayer tallied nine digs.
“It was just an awful, boring match altogether for us,” Marist coach Jodi Frigo said. “We had one our best games (Tuesday in a loss) against Notre Dame. This was a major letdown.”
Brother Rice used a 7-0 run in Set 1 behind two blocks from Kelly to take a 12-4 lead. The rest was history.
Before the action started, the Crusaders adorned warmups that featured a drawing of coach Br. Paul Ickes’ face. Ickes is set to leave his post at the school to become the Athletic Director at St. Ignatius. Wednesday’s victory gives him a state-leading 550 victories, an average of 25 wins per season over 22 years.
“Lots of life-long memories,” Ickes said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better senior group. They really made a very difficult situation for me much easier to handle.”
Long-time assistant coach Dan Dwyer is slated to take over the program starting June 10. Dwyer will become just the second head coach in program history. His son, Jim, is the Crusaders’ starting senior setter.