St. Rita Volleyball Senior Night

The St. Rita High School volleyball program recognized four seniors on Wednesday, May 10 at their final regular season home match vs. St. Francis of Wheaton. Those seniors are: Sean Coghlan (St. Cajetan), T. J. DeCesare (St. John of the Cross), Liam Kelly (St. Cajetan) and Brendan Murney (St. Alexander).

Despite a tough loss to St. Francis, St. Rita is looking forward to future challenges. While the freshman team recently captured a share of the Catholic League title, the varsity team is preparing for upcoming playoffs.  Head coach Brian Hagen '04 said. "It's been a great experience to coach these young men. Our seniors have accomplished a lot during their time; but their work isn't done yet. I expect them to continue to provide senior leadership for our team as we head into the regional semi-finals at Gwendolyn Brooks Prep on May 23."


Awards and Accolades Keep Adding Up for St. Rita Volleyball

The St. Rita Volleyball team entered the season with six returning starters so they knew they had a chance to be a special team. 

The 2016 St. Rita Varsity Volleyball Team - Co-Champions of the Chicago Catholic League

The team opened up Chicago Catholic League play with an emotional three set win at Loyola (16-25, 30-28, 25-21), which marked the first win in Wilmette since the 2012 season. After the second week of conference play, The Mustangs were the only team left unbeaten, and knew they had their destiny in their own hands. The goal was to take it one match at a time, and get to the final week of league play still in control, which they were able to do.  

The Spiking Mustangs went on to beat Mt. Carmel in two sets, (25-14, 25-17), gritted out a three-set match against CCL Blue newcomer, Wheaton St. Francis (23-25, 25-22, 25-20), and then another two-set win over St. Ignatius (25-19, 25-21). 

St. Rita Volleyball entered the final week of league play where they were hoping, and after early struggles against Providence, dominated the final two sets for a 17-25, 25-15, 25-17 victory to move to 5-0 in conference and clinch at least a share of the title, their first since 2009, and only the second CCL title in program history.  They fell to Br. Rice for the outright title in our last conference match, but are excited about  their overall accomplishments.

Led by Senior Setter, Mike Long, who totaled 768 assists on the season, along with 35 blocks and 14 aces.  Mike set his career record for assists in a crucial conference match against Wheaton St. Francis, where he dished out 44 assists.  

The Mustangs offense was paced all season by Senior Right Side Hitter, Aidan Mitchell (226 kills, 57 blocks, 21 aces) and Junior Middle Blocker, Brendan Murney (182 kills, 72 blocks, 19 aces). 
Junior Outside Hitters, Liam Kelly (183 kills, 197 digs, 17 aces) and Sean Coghlan (146 kills, 146 digs, 19 aces), and Senior Middle Blocker, Tim Carroll (116 kills, 60 blocks) were key contributors offensively and defensively all season.  Sophomore Libero, Mike Mitchell (192 digs, 14 aces) was called up a few weeks into the season and played a huge role both from the service line and defensively.

The Mustangs finished the 2016 campaign with a 22-15 (5-1 in CCL) record and won their first Regional Championship since '13 against the fourth seed--Stagg 25-21, 25-22. They fell to Sandburg, who would go on to take third place in the State Tournament, at the St. Laurence Sectional.   

The Spiking Mustangs had Five All-Conference Selections this year--Seniors Mike Long and Aidan Mitchell, and Juniors Sean Coghlan, Liam Kelly, and Brendan Murney.
Junior Middle Blocker Brendan Murney was named to the Daily Southtown All-Area Second team, while Senior Aidan Mitchell was an honorable mention. 

Head Coach, Brian Hagen, '04, was awarded his first Lawless Award for Most Outstanding Coach in the Catholic League Blue Division.  

The St. Rita Mustangs Volleyball program is also excelling in the classroom, as they have earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for the second year in a row. They are one of only 23 boys high school volleyball teams in the entire nation to earn this prestigious award--with a 3.8 cumulative team GPA.

The Mustangs return four starters next season, and along with some strong rising juniors, will be ready to defend their Catholic League crown, and look to advance deep into the state playoffs.  

St. Rita Volleyball Wins Tuesday Night

St. Rita setter Mike Long dished 23 assists as the Mustangs downed Marian Catholic 25-10, 25-18.

Aidan Mitchell led the attack with seven kills, while Liam Kelly, Tim Carroll and Sean Coughlan had six kills apiece for the fifth-seeded Mustangs (21-14).

Senior Mike Long (33) with teammates on Senior Night

"It would mean everything to us to win a regional," Long said. "When our year started, we set out with a goal to with the Catholic League and to win a regional. We completed our first goal. Now we're in the position to win it."

Next up for St. Rita Volleyball is the IHSA Regional Championship Game vs. Stagg at Marian Catholic at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25, 2016



St. Rita Varsity Volleyball Wins First Catholic League Title Since 2009

By: John Nee '93

St. Rita Volleyball Coach Brian Hagen ’04 knew he had the makings of a special team with the return of six starters from his 2015 team, and his instincts proved to be true as the Spiking Mustangs claimed their first Catholic League Championship since 2009 and the second in school history.

The team opened the Catholic League with a big win at Loyola (16-25, 30-28, 25-21) followed by wins against Mt. Carmel (25-14, 25-17), St. Francis (23-25, 25-22, 25-20), and St. Ignatius (25-19, 25-21). Then after a sluggish start against Augustinian rival Providence Catholic, the Mustangs dominated the final two sets to beat the Celtics (17-25, 25-15, 25-17) to move to 5-0 in the Catholic League Blue and clinch the title.

The Mustangs were led by senior setter Mike Long (629 assists, 33 blocks, 11 aces, St. John Fisher), senior right-side hitter Aidan Mitchell (174 kills, 48 blocks, 19 aces, St Germaine), junior middle blocker Brendan Murney (168 kills, 64 blocks, 17 aces, St. Alexander), junior outside hitters Liam Kelly (147 kills, 158 digs, St. Cajetan) and Sean Coghlan (125 kills, 120 digs, St. Cajetan), and senior middle blocker Tim Carroll (95 kills, 51 block, St. Christina). The Mustangs also received a key contribution from mid-season call-up sophomore Mike Mitchell (151 digs, 9 aces, St. John Fisher ).

The Mustangs (18-12) will now turn their attention to the state playoffs where they have earned the #5 seed in the St. Laurence Sectional. They will open state playoff action on Tuesday, May 24th at the Marian Catholic Regional.

St. Rita Volleyball Remains Undefeated in the Chicago Catholic League on Senior Night

Athletic excellence is part of St. Rita High School's 110-year-old tradition. Head Volleyball Coach Brian Hagen '04 is well aware of that fact. So, Coach Hagen made capturing the conference title a priority. In only his second season in charge of the program, the Mustangs ensured themselves at least a share of the 2016 Chicago Catholic League (CCL) Boys Volleyball title, with a come-from-behind win at home over Augustinian-rival Providence Catholic on Senior Night, Monday, May 2, 2016.

Before the game, the Mustang faithful and many grade school students in the crowd honored the St. Rita senior players and their parents in a Senior Night Ceremony. Those seniors are: Danny Ashe (St. Cahterine), Tim Carroll (St. Christina), Tommy Houlihan (St. Catherine), Michael Long (St. John Fisher), Aidan Mitchell (St. Germaine), Sean Noone (Finley Jr. High), and Carlos Tenorio, (St. Mary-Riverside).

After losing the first set to Providence 17-25, the Mustangs never gave up. Strong performances by A. Mitchell (11 kills 4 blocks, 7 digs) Sean Coghlan (8 kills/St. Cajetan), Brendan Murney (7 kills/St. Alexander) and Long (28 assists) helped the Mustangs effort to win the second and third sets by scores of 25-15 and 25-17 and remain undefeated in the CCL.

Coach Hagen praised his student-athletes after the game. He said, "We stress hard work, preparation and execution. When a team works hard together, eventually success follows. I am pleased with the the way our guys played tonight against a very competitive Providence team. We look forward to more hard work and strong competition."

The Mustangs now look to stay undefeated in the CCL and win the title outright. The upcoming schedule includes what should be exciting games against Br. Rice on Thursday, May 4 on the road and Tuesday, May 10 at home.