The 2019 campaign began in difficult fashion for the Saint Ignatius varsity volleyball team.
The Wildcats lost three contests to three tough foes, all ranked in the top ten preseason coaches' poll.
But the 0-3 start to the year does not spell doom and should not induce panic. The Volleyball Cats went wire-to-wire in two of the three matches, with three sets decided by 2 points.
Saturday's tripleheader at Mount Vernon High School started with a battle vs. Columbus St. Charles. From the start, the game was a dogfight. Neither team could manage a 2-point deficit at the 25-point mark, so the squads kept battling. In the end, the Wildcats emerged triumphant with a 30-28 win in the longest set of the day.
The second set proved to be just as hard-fought. The two teams dueled point-for-point for the duration of the match, down to the bitter end for the Wildcats. St. Charles eked out a 25-23 victory to force a decisive third set.
In the final set, the Cardinals broke away in the end. St. Charles claimed a 25-20 win in the third set, earning a season-opening win over the Wildcats.
The Elder Panthers took center stage as the Wildcats' next challenger. The Cincinnati powerhouse roared in a two-set victory. The Panthers outmatched the Cats in a fiery showdown, winning 25-19 and 25-17.
In the final contest of the day, the host Yellow Jackets took on the Wildcats.
Just like the first game of the day, the Wildcats won the first set, albeit by a larger margin. The men of Jacob Layden steamrolled to a 25-20 victory, looking great all the way. Mount Vernon quickly recovered, however, rebounding for a major 25-16 win. The result forced a rubber match.
The third set proved to be the closest. The teams traded jabs for the duration of the set. Heading down the stretch, the Wildcats remained within striking distance. But in the end, Mount Vernon found a way to win, walking away with a 25-23 win.
The Wildcats will take away lessons from the losses, with plenty of time to rest and rebound before the next match on April 2. The Volleyball Cats will host St. Edward for CYO Night in Sullivan Gym for the Tuesday contest, looking for the first win of the year against an always formidable rival.