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Alex Antkiewicz and St Laurence beat Stagg

The volleyball future for St. Laurence’s Alex Antkiewicz is a little unclear.

But the senior right-side batsman has 20/20 vision when it comes to his academic future.

The 6-foot-tall Antkiewicz plans to study optometry at Augustana University, but it’s unclear whether he’ll land a spot on the men’s volleyball team or not.

“I talked to the coach a couple of times, but they already had six kids committed,” Antkiewicz said. “He told me to keep in touch because many children may drop out of school after the first year.

“My mentality is that even if I’m on the bench, I can continue playing the sport I love.”

That being said, Antkiewicz will stay off the bench for a bit longer.

His three quick kills to open the first game Tuesday night propelled the Vikings to a 25-19, 25-18 victory over the host Chargers in the Stagg regional semifinals in Palos Hills.

Antkiewicz finished with eight kills and a block for St. Laurence (24-11). Dylan McKeon tallied eight kills and two blocks and Elijah Landeros added seven kills. Roman Rzeszutko had four aces.

Matthew Wojciechowski led Stagg (14-20) with six kills and Dennis Tocila added five.

St. Laurence's Roman Rzeszutko (8) hits the ball over the net against the Stagg Chargers during a game in Palos Hills on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Nate Swanson/for the Daily Southtown)
St. Laurence’s Alex Antkiewicz (5) hits the ball over the net against the host Chargers during a Stagg Class 3A regional semifinal game in Palos Hills on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Nate Swanson/Daily Southtown)

St. Laurence challenges Brother Rice (24-13) at 4:45 pm Thursday in the regional final. The early start time is to accommodate Crusader graduation ceremonies.

Brother Rice, a state quarterfinalist last spring, beat Chicago Christian 25-13, 25-10. John Mikrut led with 10 kills and five aces, while Vaughn Goberville and Carter Mosel had five kills each.

Antkiewicz said if she doesn’t play volleyball at Augustana, it won’t be a deciding factor. What matters most is his education. But he has loved the sport since his father, Mark, inspired him.

“I started in fourth grade because my dad made me,” Antkiewicz said. “He was my coach for three or four years. He still plays in adult leagues and he is a referee.”

Alex said his father wanted to play in high school, but St. Laurence didn’t have a boys volleyball team until after he graduated. Meanwhile, Mark taught his son well.

St. Laurence's Roman Rzeszutko (8) places the ball during a game in Palos Hills on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Nate Swanson/for the Daily Southtown)
St. Laurence’s Roman Rzeszutko (8) places the ball against the host Chargers during a Stagg Class 3A regional semifinal game in Palos Hills on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Nate Swanson/Daily Southtown)

“He’s the type of player we can play at any time in the game,” Rzeszutko said of Antkiewicz. “If we are in a crisis or in trouble, he can get us out of it.

“You just put the ball on No. 5 and he’ll hit it.”

Rzeszutko is looking forward to Thursday’s regional final. The senior point guard transferred from Brother Rice. The two Catholic League teams did not meet during the regular season.

Rzeszutko promises not to speak ill on Thursday, but is looking forward to the showdown.

“I’m playing against my old school and I’m really excited to play against them,” he said. “I’ve wanted to play against them since I transferred. It is going to be very fun”.

St. Laurence's Roman Rzeszutko (8) hits the ball over the net against the Stagg Chargers during a game in Palos Hills on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Nate Swanson/for the Daily Southtown)
St. Laurence’s Alex Antkiewicz (5) attempts to drive the ball through the block against the host Chargers during a Stagg Class 3A regional semifinal game in Palos Hills on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Nate Swanson/Daily Southtown)

At the same time, St. Laurence coach Laura Bugarin was also happy to see Antkiewicz get off to a good start against Stagg.

“He usually doesn’t get the big numbers, but he gets the big points for us,” Bugarin said of Antkiewicz. “I’m very proud of his performance.”

Antkiewicz hopes that in the future everything goes well with the men’s volleyball team at Augustana, because he would prefer not to give up the sport just yet.

“I love the feeling of being on the court,” he said. “I always say that people overlook our sport, but I think the beautiful thing is that it is very different between different genders and different levels.

“College and high school are two completely different sports.”

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.