Boys volleyball: York proves it’s elite, but Marist prevails in hard-fought IHSA state championship match

Dukes, in first title game appearance, fall 25-21, 28-26; Glenbard West takes third

York's Jack Bute (23) watches his hit for a point past Marist's Ethan Kuziela during the IHSA state boys volleyball championship match on Saturday, June 1, 2024 in Hoffman Estates.

HOFFMAN ESTATES – York indeed proved it was elite.

Playing in its first state title match, the Dukes battled down to the wire, but in the end, Marist proved too much and emerged with a 25-21, 28-26 victory in the championship match June 1 at Hoffman Estates High School.

It was the fourth state title for the RedHawks (39-2), who were making their first state appearance since last winning the crown in 2019.

York (37-5) was making its first appearance in the state finals since 1999 and played for the title for the first time.

“It was phenomenal,” York coach Ken Dowdy said. “The best season in York school history. We set school records for wins and were the first volleyball team, boys or girls, to play for a state title.”

Both teams had a balanced offense but Marist made a couple of more big plays. Playing in his final high school match, senior outside hitter Jack Bute led the Dukes with eight kills, two assists, two digs and a block.

“It was a great season, “Bute said. “We broke the win record and just kept going. I love playing with these guys and we did a lot of great things. But it just sucks not being able to finish it.”

How closely matched were the two teams? The second set featured 20 ties and five lead changes. Marist led 11-8 at one point. Otherwise, it was one or two points the whole way. Sophomore outside hitter Ben Brown, who had seven kills and two digs, gave the Dukes a 22-20 lead with a kill, but the RedHawks responded with three straight to go up 23-22.

Four more ties followed but York could never garner a set-point opportunity. Bute kept the Dukes alive with kills to tie it at 25-25 and 26-26. But a long serve and a kill by junior setter/opposite side hitter Christian Teresi, who had a match-high nine kills, 12 assists, two blocks and four digs, was the match-winner for Marist.

Nathan Toth, a junior outside hitter, had six kills, three digs and a block for Marist. His serving also proved to be huge as he had five aces. Three of those came late in the first set.

Logan Rice, a senior middle hitter who finished with six kills, had a kill that tied the score for the eighth and final time in the first set at 20-20. Teresi gave the RedHawks the lead again with a kill and Toth used his jump serve to laser three straight aces. A wide hit gave the Dukes one more point but senior middle hitter Jack Meador mashed one of his two kills for Marist to end the first set.

York's Logan Rice (5) hits past Marist's Jack Meador (7) during the IHSA state boys volleyball championship match on Saturday, June 1, 2024 in Hoffman Estates.

Luke Brannigan, a senior outside hitter, bashed six kills and senior setter/opposite side hitter Ethan Kuziela came up with five kills, 13 assists, three digs and two blocks for the RedHawks.

Hunter Srepanich, a 6-foot-7 sophomore middle hitter, smacked six kills, Jack Zitek had 12 assists and five digs and senior setter Zach Brown kept the band together with 13 assists and three digs for the Dukes.

“It was my first year on the varsity and all the seniors taught me the ropes,” Srepanich said. “The environment out there was just insane. We definitely battled the whole way and showed that we belonged.”

The Dukes demolished Loyola 25-16, 25-14 in the second semifinal earlier in the day to advance to the championship. After losing to Lyons on April 16, York was 12-3. The Dukes lost only two more matches all season, both to Marist. The Dukes had won 22 straight before the title match loss.

“The Loyola match was the best we played all season,” Dowdy said. “Marist is just an excellent team and they’re not ranked No. 2 in the nation for nothing. They had an aggressive topspin and we just couldn’t get over the hump.”

York's Ben Brown (12) locks his eyes on the ball as he attempts to block the hit by Marist's Christian Teresi during the IHSA state boys volleyball championship match on Saturday, June 1, 2024 in Hoffman Estates.

The first semifinal was the long-awaited postseason clash between Marist and two-time defending state champion Glenbard West. The RedHawks prevailed 28-26, 26-24, winning three of the four matches between the two teams this season.

Although the Hilltoppers (38-4) fell short of a second three-peat, the first being 2015-17, they brought home their 10th straight state trophy, all of them third place or higher. They rallied to defeat Loyola 27-29, 25-18, 25-22 in the third-place match.

“It was the battle of who is less exhausted,” Glenbard West coach Christine Giunta-Mayer said. “The seniors did a great job all season and they were not going to end it on a loss.”

Casey Maas, at outside, led the way with 20 kills and added four digs, three blocks and two assists against Loyola. Fellow seniors Xzavion Willett (eight kills, eight blocks) and setter Jack Anderson (37 assists, 15 digs) also came up big. Jack Lopez, a senior outside hitter, led Loyola (38-4) with 18 kills.

“We definitely didn’t want to end on a loss,” Maas said. “It [getting a 10th straight trophy of third or better] shows that we’re a great program with a great history and have coaches that hold us accountable.”

Randy Whalen

Randy Whalen - Shaw Local News Network Correspondent

Randy Whalen is a contributing reporter to Shaw Local, covering high school sports in Will County