Had it been 100 degrees in the Metea Valley gymnasium Wednesday, St. Francis setter Robert Smith still would not have worked up a sweat.
“Passing is something we've been working on in practice,” Smith said. “First contact hasn't been our strength. But when it's there like you saw tonight, we’re able to put teams away.”
Smith meted out 27 assists, rarely having to move more than a few feet from the net, as St. Francis’s flawless passing keyed a quick 25-16, 25-14 victory over Glenbard East in the championship game of the Metea Valley Regional.
Greg Churney led St. Francis (31-6) with 10 kills, Jeff Jendryk added six kills and three blocks and Dan Zurawski had four kills and two blocks.
“Obviously, Jeff is huge for us,” Smith said. “Everyone keys on him, and that opens up our outside hitters who can put the ball away when they’re going one-on-one. Even our right side, Pat (Shearer) can put the ball away.
“We have so many players that I can use, it's not a one-man team.”
Jendryk set the tone early in Game 1, sandwiching a block around two kills to spot the Spartans a 3-0 lead that swelled to 9-3 and eventually 20-11. Glenbard East (24-13) hung around early in Game 2, but Churney and Jendryk went back-to-back to give St. Francis a 17-9 lead.
“I have to give credit to (libero Ian) Thompson and Danny (Zurawski) and Jon (Messa) and (Grant) Garvey,” Churney said. “They really stepped up tonight. And Jeff pulls the block and really opens it up for me. It was a good team effort.
“We had not won a regional since 2010, and after last year’s debacle (losing in its regional opener), we wanted to bring home some hardware.”
Zurawski’s four kills were four more than the senior had in the Spartans’ win over Hinsdale Central on Tuesday, a fact not lost on St. Francis coach Mike Lynch.
“Tonight was his best game of the year by far,” Lynch said. “He didn't have a single kill for us last night. But he’s a weapon. They (Glenbard East) were probably thinking he's not going to get the ball, but we set him more than we have all year.”
Glenbard East got five kills and a block from Sterling Glover and three kills from Adam Eboli.
“We didn't get anything going in the first game and it’s unfortunate because we actually passed extremely well last night,” Glenbard East coach Marci Maier said. “Serve-receive took us right out of our offense in the first game.
“I thought we were going to get something going in the second game and we were right there with them for a while, but again it just wasn't our night. They played really well. They did what they do. We just did not match up with them at all tonight.”