For the last 12 years, Saint Ignatius volleyball has set the standard in Northeast Ohio.
First under Casey Marcelo and now under Jacob Layden, the Wildcats have been a powerhouse program in Northeast Ohio.
The Volleyball Cats retained their seat at the table on Saturday, sweeping Medina, 3-0, to advance to the OHSBVA State Tournament for the 12th straight season. The Wildcats captured convincing wins of 25-7, 25-7, and 25-9 for the Regional crown.
With the victory, the Wildcats will play the winner of Elder vs. Archbishop Moeller in the State Quarterfinal next Saturday at 1:30 pm at Capital University.
From the start, the Wildcats looked like men against boys. The Volleyball Cats played smart and tough, looking professional in all phases of the game. With stellar serving, great defense, and excellent attacks, the Wildcats looked unstoppable from the get-go.
The Wildcats secured a 25-7 win in the first set, and carried the momentum into the second set.
Matthew Rogers turned a 4-3 lead into a 17-3 lead very quickly with a 13-0 run at the service line. Just like against St. Edward, Rogers caught fire and peppered the Bees with consistently accurate serves, tossed across the net with a little hop and a deadly right hand. The Wildcats made a couple errors down the stretch, but played clean for the most part, securing a 25-7 conquest.
The front line took over in the third set. Phil Catanzaro stood out, amassing plenty of kills and a number of aces. Andrew Boeckman uncorked his rocket arm. Meanwhile, Vince Holzheimer set things up perfectly. James Thoma also contributed a long run at the service line.
The Bees tried to stick around, but the Wildcats' killer instinct kicked in, ensuring a 25-9 victory and the sweep. Catanzaro played a large role, tallying 9 kills and 7 aces in the win.
Assistant coach Anne Kent was quite pleased after the victory.
"Vince did a great job of mixing it up and using all of his hitters, so almost all of the hitters got kills in every set. We had a couple of blocks. We served really well, only missing six serves. It was a good game – we played a clean game," Kent said. "It's critical to serve well. If we can get them to have a bad first pass, they don't have the setup to get a power hit. That's critical, especially playing either Moeller or Elder in the next match."
Indeed, the Wildcats will have to be on point next weekend from the get-go. The opening round is not a gimme – both Elder and Moeller bested the Wildcats during the regular season. The Panthers beat the Cats in the season opener, 2-0, and the Crusaders defeated the Cats, 3-1, in the Centerville Elite 8 opener.