The Wildcats qualified for the State Tournament after a 3-0 match win against the St. Edward Eagles in the OHSBVA Regional Final. The Volleyball Cats traveled to Pickerington Central High School for the OHSBVA State Tournament this past weekend. On Saturday, June 5, the Blue and Gold squared off against Olentangy Liberty in the State Quarterfinal.
The Cats opened up the State Quarterfinal with a 4-1 advantage in set one after an Andrew Boeckman kill. The Patriots would go on a 3-0 run to knot the set at four apiece. The contest throughout was a back and forth battle, and the opening set was a foreshadowing of what was to come in Columbus. The Cats took their largest lead of the set after an error by the Patriots to give the Wildcats a 17-11 advantage. Olentangy Liberty would cut the Wildcat lead to one with a score of 23-22. The Wildcats would close the door in the opening set with a Boeckman spike to take it 25-22.
The Patriots came out strong in set two, taking an early 10-5 advantage over the Wildcats. Sophomore John Thomas’ spike pulled the Cats within one point in set two. However, the Patriots would maintain that one-point advantage after multiple volleys. Then, Olentangy Liberty would begin to pull away with a 20-15 advantage. Finally, the Patriots would knot the match after a 25-19 set two win over the Wildcats.
Set three paid the price of admission to the State Quarterfinal. The Wildcats worked out to an early 11-6 advantage after a Boeckman signature spike and looked like they would pull away. However, the Patriots stormed back to keep set three close. Olentangy Liberty would take their first lead of the set after a spike to make the score 20-19. The Patriots would hold set point at 24-21, but with two errors, a Boeckman kill and an Alec Bender block, the Wildcats took a 25-24 lead and had set point. The Wildcats would come close to winning the set three separate times, but a gutsy performance by the Patriots would give them the 29-27 win and take a 2-1 match advantage over the Wildcats.
With their season on the line, the Wildcats came out strong in set four, working out to a 10-7 advantage after a Thomas spike. Olentangy Liberty would again storm back and the set went back-and-forth yet again. The Wildcats would pull away late in set four and after a ball was sent into the net by the Patriots, the Wildcats took set four 25-18 and forcing a decisive set five.
In set five, the Patriots owned an early 7-5 advantage. However, the Wildcats continued to play with high energy to keep their season alive. Even when they well behind 10-7, the Cats continued to battle. The Cats’ 5-1 run gave them a one-point advantage in set five with a 12-11 lead. The match point was in favor of the Wildcats, with a score of 14-13. A Boeckman spike gave the Wildcats a 15-13 set five win and, more importantly, a 3-2 match win over the Patriots to advance to the State Semifinal.
The Wildcats would draw Cincinnati Elder in the Final Four on Sunday, June 6. Elder came out strong against the Cats in set one, stretching to an early 16-8 lead. The Cats showed waves of their offense; however, Elder overmatched them in the opening set, winning 25-12.
The Volleyball Cats would play a sufficient set two as it appeared they shook off the nerves. The Panthers and Wildcats would go back and forth in set two, but the Cats were locked in and after a Boeckman spike, they took a 13-11 lead. After an error, the Wildcats were enjoying a 21-17 lead in set two. However, the Panthers would storm back and tie the match at 23. The Cats would close the door with a Boeckman spike and a Sam Brown Ace winning set two 25-23 to tie the match 1-1.
With new life in the contest, the Wildcats looked to take a series lead. The Cats continued their high power offense in set three. After a Danny Salem kill, the Wildcats led the Panthers 15-11. With a 19-17 lead, Elder would call a timeout to regroup; out of the timeout, the Panthers would reach another gear going on a 7-0 run to take a 24-19 lead. A Boeckman spike kept the Cats in the set, but Elder would come away with a 25-20 set three win to take a 2-1 match lead.
Like the State Quarterfinal, the Wildcats had their back against the wall but would not go away quickly. After a Thomas spike, the Cats owned a 14-10 advantage against Elder in set four. Elder would go on a 5-0 run to take a 15-14 set lead, but Brown would tie the score after a kill. Then, Elder would go on a 10-5 run to win the set 25-20 and win the match 3-1.
Despite the State Semifinal loss to Elder, the Wildcats had a season to remember with first-year head coach Dominick Adornato ’11. In just his first season, the Wildcats achieved a 9-2 record in conference play and had five All-Region players, which was the most in the state. The Cats finished third overall in the state, which is the highest rank since the 2017 season. A season of adversity from the Wildcats was nothing short of remarkable. The Volleyball Cats appear to be in good hands with coach Adornato.