The Vidovic Era is alive and well on Chicago’s Southside.
After leading the Marist girls volleyball program to back to back state titles, coach Jordan Vidovic added another state championship trophy to the Red Hawks trophy case with a 25-21, 25-23 win over Glenbard West.
Leading the way for Marist was senior, and Lewis recruit Marty Jepsen.
Jepsen played nearly a flawless game, accumulating 14 kills on 31 swings using nearly every shot in the book, while adding 11 digs and a block.
But perhaps more importantly, Jepsen did not commit a single error in any facet of the game, showing why he is considered one of the best players across the nation.
“Marty’s impact is unreal, I get to see it on a whole different level, he impacted the game from every single spot,” said Vidovic. “But it’s really his character that goes along with it that I know from being with him every single day. I don’t think there is a high school volleyball player in the country that has the same impact as him, and I don’t say that lightly.”
Though Marist found another gear midway through the match that Glebard West couldn’t quite match, the Hilltoppers showed their big match experience early as they jumped out to a 6-2 lead.
Led by outside hitter Benny Harrington and libero Zach Morris, Glenbard West dug everything that came their way and returned the favor by putting it away on Marist’s side of the net.
The slow start didn’t last long however, as Marist played some spectacular defense of their own and eventually took their first lead of the match at 13-12 before taking the opening et 25-11.
“We just needed a little restart, we had to adjust to the pace of the game,” said Vidovic. “They came out with a fury of defense, it slowed us down a little bit. Once we showed we could earned some points, we were in the match. It wasn’t going to be easy but we showed we could be successful.”
Marist would carry that momentum into the second set as they raced out to a 7-3 lead a lead they would maintain until very late in the match.
Needing only to play sideout volleyball up 20-15 to seal the championship, Marist faced a heavy resistance from Glenbard West, as they went on a 3-0 run to pull within two points.
Refusing to go away, the Hilltoppers showed their championship caliber mettle by cutting the deficit by just one point.
But Marist held their nerve, and a well executed attack out of a timeout gave the RedHawks the cushion they needed to close out the match, taking home the title in the process.
Vidovic said: “We tried to stay even-keeled and mentally stable as possible. We knew the way we were going to win it was to stay fast and stay aggressive. Even if we couldn’t score the point because they were so incredible on defense we knew if we stuck with it we gave ourselves a chance.”
The win solidified Marist’s status as a volleyball powerhouse not just in the state, but across the country as well.
With three state championships over the past two years, to go along with five additional regional titles for good measure, the real question that needs to be asked is what’s next?
“I have no idea, just relax on a Sunday I guess, just sit back and take it all in.” jokes Vidovic. “I’m surrounded by the best kids in the world and it’s so much fun to walk into the gym every single day and I love it.”
Whatever the future may hold for Coach Vidovic and the Marist volleyball program, it has been a remarkably successful two years for the fans of one special catholic school in Mt. Greenwood.