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Ryan Paull, (21) of Brother Rice spikes the ball between a group of Glenbard West defenders. | Vincent D. Johnson~for Sun-Times Media

It was a milestone more than two decades in the making.

With two wins in pool play Friday at the Brother Rice Smack Attack, Crusaders coach Br. Paul Ickes became the first coach in Illinois boys volleyball history to reach the 500-win mark.

“I haven’t been able to think about it much, in all honesty,” Ickes said. “Now that it’s actually here, it is an amazing feeling. I cant believe it’s 21 years. I’ve been so blessed — as you can see — with all the great people and all the kids that I’ve had the privilege of coaching.”

Ickes, a campus administrator and senior religion teacher at Rice, received a standing ovation from all in attendance. Along with his duties at Rice, Ickes is the president of the Illinois High School Volleyball Coaches Association.

“I really believe I have one of the best jobs on earth,” Ickes said. “I get to be the spiritual leader and the head volleyball coach at Brother Rice High School, and this typifies it.”

Rice (11-6) downed St. Patrick 25-14, 25-16 in the opener to give Ickes win No. 499, and the Crusaders outlasted Glenbard West 25-22, 25-18 an hour later for the 500th.

“He’s one of the greatest coaches and a fantastic advocate of the sport and of student athletes,” Glenbard West coach Christina Guinta-Mayer said. “He’s absolutely top-notch. He deserves this, and I hope (Rice) goes on and wins the tournament for him.”

Mitch Weiler, a returning All-Area performer, recorded seven kills and two blocks to help propel the Crusaders past Glenbard West.

“I’ve known Br. Paul since I was in fourth grade,” Weiler, a junior, said. “For him to accomplish this goal is amazing. He’s just a great guy and he deserves it.

“This is definitely one of the biggest milestones, especially for the program.”

Rice advances to the Gold Bracket of its tournament, with matches set for Saturday at St. Xavier.

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