In the final home event of the spring season at Saint Ignatius, the Volleyball Cats delivered a resounding victory.
The Saint Ignatius varsity volleyball team produced a rout in the Regional Semifinal on Wednesday. The Wildcats dominated the Eagles from start to finish, earning a 3-set sweep – 25-4, 25-12, and 25-20.
The Wildcats now own a 16-7 record entering the Regional Final vs. Medina on Saturday at 10:30 am at Massillon Jackson High School. A bid to the OHSBVA State Tournament will be on the line.
Playing in Sullivan Gym for the final time in their careers, the Wildcats' seniors roared in the first set. The hosts played a near-perfect set, avoiding errors and returning everything the Eagles threw their way. Matthew Rogers put on a clinic at the service line, turning a 5-2 lead into a 23-2 rout. Rogers helped the Wildcats gallop to an 18-0 run, absolutely dominating the Eagles with pinpoint serves. The front line helped him out with several blocks and plentiful kills, finding holes in the St. Edward defense.
Rogers' flawless serves, with a little hop and a precise hit with his right hand, dealt St. Edward a deadly blow early in the contest.
"He had a great service run," said Head Coach Layden. "In this same round two years ago, David Castele went 24 in a row. Rogers' service run was great, too. The consistency showed through all three games, not just the 18-0 run. He missed one serve wide in game three, but otherwise, he was super consistent. We've talked about it throughout the year – progressing at the service line. That's a good example of us finally hitting our peak as far as consistency at the service line."
The Eagles managed to return more balls in the second set and made it more difficult. But players such as Phil Catanzaro, Eric Larsen, and Teddy Koncelik left little doubt in the second set. A 7-0 run proved to be critical, preventing the Eagles from mounting a comeback. The Volleyball Cats finished off St. Edward, 25-12, setting the stage for a sweep.
St. Edward did not want to see its season come to an end, fighting hard in the third set. A few errors by the Wildcats allowed the third stanza to remain within striking distance for the Eagles, but the day belonged to Saint Ignatius.
James Thoma and other underclassmen such as Andrew Boeckman and Vince Holzheimer ensured that a fourth set would not happen. The Wildcats completed the sweep of the Lakewoodites, 25-20.
"It was a really great, complete team effort in game one," Layden said. "We played okay in game two, but we played really poorly in game three. I thought the energy dropped off, which is tough, but in general, I was really happy with how Rogers played. I thought he brought energy the whole time. I was happy with how Larsen played. And Thoma brought good energy, too."
The next step for the Wildcats will be Medina on Saturday. The Cats and Bees have not faced off this season, but Medina did play St. Edward on May 16. The Eagles swept the Bees – 25-23, 25-22, and 25-18. The Wildcats will hope to do the same and clinch a berth to the State Tourney for the 12th straight season.