The Volleyball Cats returned to the court on Friday, March 26, taking on their rivals, the St. Edward Eagles. The emotions were already high in the season opener, amplified with a rivalry match-up in Sullivan Gym. Saint Ignatius fell to the Eagles in five sets in what was a nail-biter of a game throughout.
The Wildcats got significant contributions from senior middle blocker Danny Salem and sophomore middle blocker Sam Brown. Both were a force on the Cats’ offensive side, totaling 21 kills combined. The Wildcats battled back multiple times in the match until they finally fell 16-14 in the fifth and final set.
The Wildcats opened the first set strong, taking the set 25-21. There was the obstacle of shaking off the cobwebs from a long off-season, but the Cats came out fired up, and everyone in Sullivan Gym could feel the energy.
In the second set, the Cats looked to continue to bring that intense energy. Saint Ignatius took a 21-17 advantage against the Eagles in set two. The Eagles were able to rally back and take a 24-23 lead. The Wildcats were faced with a set point and were able to force a 24-24 tie. To win the set, a team must win by two points. St. Edward got back-to-back points off unlucky hits by the Wildcats, and the match was deadlocked at 1-1.
The momentum would swing back and forth in set three, the Wildcats and Eagles seemed to match every point, and the serves became more intense as the match went on. The Cats took a 21-19 lead looking to take a match advantage, but the Eagles stormed back again, winning the set 25-23. As the Eagles took a 2-1 set lead, the Wildcats were not going to go quietly into the night.
The Wildcats started the fourth set hot, taking a quick 10-2 lead. Freshman setter and captain Patrick Maly was the conductor of the run for the Cats. As in the fourth set, he totaled ten assists and four digs to keep the Wildcats in the match. Saint Ignatius would win set four 25-18 sending the game to a fifth and final set.
The Wildcats limited student section was in a frenzy heading to set number five; the momentum swung back in favor of the boys in blue and gold. After every serve, the tension became higher and higher. In the fifth set, the match point is at 15 and win by two. The Eagles took a 14-13 advantage, and it was match point in Sullivan Gym. The Wildcats battled off the Eagles attack on the serve when presented the opportunity the Wildcats delivered. A perfect setup by Maly paved the way for a Patrick O’Neil kill. The energy was more amplified with the match knotted at 14 all.
The Eagles took a 15-14 advantage in the fifth set. The final serve was an impressive showing from both the Eagles and Wildcats, as both fought for the point. The Wildcats would ultimately fall 16-14 after the Wildcats could not get the match-point back over the net.
The Cats finished the match with 43 kills, 66 digs, and nine blocks. They were lead by Salem, who totaled 13 kills, with six blocks. He was a force for the Wildcats on Friday night.
Although the Wildcats fell to the Eagles, the potential for Saint Ignatius volleyball is sky-high. They will retake the court on Tuesday to take on the Walsh Jesuit Warriors at 7 p.m. from Sullivan Gym. The SIBN will have live coverage, beginning with the JV match at 6 p.m. Head Volleyball Coach Dominick Adornato ’11 seeks his first victory with Saint Ignatius.