In the final match before Monday's Regional Tournament seed meeting, the Wildcats took care of business on Friday.
The Volleyball Cats earned a 3-1 victory over Brecksville-Broadview Heights, advancing to 13-7 on the season.
With Sullivan Gym in use for AP Exams, the Wildcats hosted the contest in Murphy Gym. In an unusual twist, the gym floor was slippery with an unknown substance, perhaps having something to do with the change in weather. Try as the coaches and maintenance staff would, the floor remained a little oily and slippery for the duration of the match, playing a role in the contest heading to a fourth set.
"I would never think that court conditions would play a role in a volleyball match, so I was a little frustrated," said Head Coach Jacob Layden. "We lost game three because we essentially didn't set our outsides because of how slippery the court was on that half. I was frustrated, but at the same time, getting out healthy is more important."
The Wildcats did come out healthy and eventually earned the victory in the fourth set.
The hosts roared out of the starting gates in the first set. Phil Catanzaro helped the Wildcats open up a 5-1 lead with a couple of kills and an ace. Four aces in a row by Teddy Koncelik further built the lead in the middle portion of the set, aided by kills by Vince Holzheimer, Eric Larsen, and Andrew Boeckman. Alex Heath, Holzheimer, Catanzaro, Koncelik, and Boeckman all contributed kills in the final stretch, cementing a 25-13 win.
The Bees made adjustments in the second set and kept it closer, aided by Saint Ignatius errors. The Wildcats built a narrow 11-9 lead and never relented. With persistent play, Brecksville-Broadview Heights kept it close, never letting the Wildcats take an insurmountable advantage. Leading 21-18, the Wildcats received a big boost with a Bees serve error. James Thoma took it from there, acing the bees and placing pressure on them. Alex Heath tallied the set-winning kill for a 25-18 triumph.
Errors and tentative play on the slippery play led to the Wildcats' undoing in the third set. The Bees staked an early lead for the early portion of the set, until great plays by Boeckman, Koncelik, and Heath helped the Wildcats claim an 11-10 lead. Several impressive plays by Holzheimer and Catanzaro stretched the advantage to 16-12. The Wildcats built the lead to 21-17 before the Bees called a timeout and then started buzzing. Errors by Saint Ignatius and strong play by the Bees allowed the visitors to roll to an 8-2 lead.
"When some things aren't going our way, we have to step up, especially in the serve-receiver gam. I think there were opportunities for us to do it a lot better, at least in game three," Layden said. All that being said, it was a challenging match because the court conditions were in the kids' heads from the start, and they just didn't really get over that. You saw at the end of game three that there were a couple balls that got set out here and Phil got blocked twice. In reality, that doesn't really happen normally because Phil didn't take an approach. He was just running up to the net and hitting it. But while I'm upset because I don't we should have lost the set, it doesn't really matter."
The Wildcats came alive in the fourth set, determined to finish off the Bees. Saint Ignatius did just that. After the Bees fought to an 8-8 tie, the Wildcats won the next five points, leading to a Brecksville timeout to scheme how to stop Catanzaro and Boeckman.
The Bees could not stop the dynamic duo.
The senior-sophomore combo guided the Wildcats to a 12-3 run, with Catanzaro lighting a 7-0 rally. Nine errors by the Bees helped, but Catanzaro and Boeckman proved to be too much to handle.
Over the course of the four sets, the duo combined for 24 kills, 5 aces, and 12 digs.
"Responding well to adversity is great. I don't think we necessarily did that in the third set. I think how we responded in set four was good," Layden said. "I thought Phil went back to the service line and took over, Andrew took over offensively, Teddy got a few big blocks. We did respond well in set four, being on the right side of the court."
The rest of the squad also stepped up, with Matthew Rogers tabbing 15 digs and Holzheimer adding 40 assists.
Following the win, the Wildcats have the weekend off to rest and recuperate. The Volleyball Cats will be back in action on Tuesday at St. Edward. The Wildcats bested the Eagles, 3-0, at home earlier in the season.