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Strong Front Line Play in the Middle Keys Sweep of Explorers

By Joe Ginley '12 , 04/09/19, 12:45PM EDT


The Wildcats did not play a perfect game, but certainly played well enough to earn a straight-set sweep.

The men of Ohio City vanquished the Explorers of Hudson in 3 sets in Sullivan Gym on Monday – 25-16, 25-17, 25-17.

With the win, the Volleyball Cats advanced to 4-3 on the year. The Wildcats are 4-0 in the month of April since an 0-3 start in March.

At the start of the contest, the Wildcats flew to a 7-2 lead. Phil Catanzaro tabbed a kill, a block, and an ace to set the tone early, leading to a Hudson timeout. The break had no impact on the momentum, as the Wildcats kept cruising, flying on a 7-3 run to 14-5. Hudson burned another timeout in response.

The Wildcats kept the pedal to the metal with a 4-1 run to get to 18-6. Then the Explorers caught fire to the tune of an 8-3 run. But it was too little, too late. The Wildcats finished off the visitors in the first set with strong front line play – a pair of blocks by Andrew Boeckman and Eric Larsen.

The second set started much more evenly. The teams split the first 14 points at 7 apiece. The Wildcats clipped a 5-1 run, but could not pull away. Errors by the Wildcats in the middle portion of the set kept the score close, within three points until the Wildcats unleashed a 4-1 run to take an 18-13 lead. 

After a Hudson timeout, the Explorers used an ace and some Saint Ignatius errors to narrow the deficit to two, 18-16. But then the Wildcats got serious and pulled away. A Larsen block and three titanic Catanzaro kills cemented the 25-17 win. James Thoma and Alex Bender also played key roles with pinpoint serves.

The third stanza played out like the second, at least at the start. Errors by each side set the score at 6-5 early on. The contest stayed close for much of the early stages, as it stood knotted at 11. The Wildcats tried to build a lead, but Hudson knocked down the sandcastle every time the Cats started to construct an advantage. That is, until Catanzaro tallied two strong kills and Vince Holzheimer tabbed an ace to set the score at 17-13.

Following a Hudson timeout, the teams split the next six points, placing the tally at 20-16. Kills by Teddy Koncelik and Catanzaro, along with an Aidan Monroe ace, sent Hudson to the brink at 24-17. Hudson exhausted a timeout in the hopes of a massive comeback, but another Monroe ace ended the set at 25-17.

Every healthy player on the Wildcats played in the contest. Bender, Monroe, and Thoma all lofted wonderfully precise serves. Eric Larsen and Alex Heath blocked well in the middle with a combined 6 blocks and 5 kills. Catanzaro, Boeckman, and Koncelik provided great kills and hits with a combined 25 kills. Holzheimer tallied 29 assists. Matthew Rogers dug out 10 balls.

"It proves we still have some work to do. We looked like a great team this weekend when we played St. X and played with the energy of a championship-level team. Talent-wise, it's a team we should beat, but I don't think we came out with the same energy and enthusiasm that we do normally," said Head Coach Jacob Layden. "The games were close-ish, and when we're playing at our best, we beat that team by a little more. That being said, we played really well in the middle with Alex and Eric. I thought they executed offensively some of the best we have all year."

Moving forward, the Wildcats will be preparing for the Spykes for Tykes Tournament at Mount Union on Saturday. 

A reminder: the Wildcats' matchup vs. Massillon Perry has been rescheduled for Wednesday, April 17. That contest will be held in Sullivan Gym.

JV Cats keep unpacking wins

The JV Cats took care of business against the Explorers, as well. Anne Kent's Cats earned a sweep – 25-11, 25-21 – to advance to 5-1 on the year. 

The JV Cats' next contest will be against the Blue Devils at Brunswick at 6 pm on Monday.