LAKEWOOD, Oh - The Volleyball Cats are off to a great start in the 2023 season in their first season as a part of the OHSAA as they sit at 4-2. The Wildcats came into Tuesday night off a busy weekend as they played in their first tri-match of the season against Olentangy Liberty, St. Xavier and Olentangy Berlin in Columbus. Looking for early season momentum, the Wildcats took on the St. Edward Eagles on Tuesday.
The first set would dictate how the match would go between these two powerhouse programs, with it being a back-and-forth contest. The Wildcats and Eagles traded points throughout the opening set, but Saint Ignatius would begin to pull away after the score was tied at 15. Junior Christopher Slater built the momentum after a terrific block at the net to thwart a St. Edward attack.
After the set score was tied at 15, the Wildcats would outscore the Eagles 10-2 and wrap up the first set win with an ace by freshman Jack Ragon. The Cats would total four aces and ten kills in the opening set win on St. Edward.
It was more of the same back-and-forth battle in the second set. Ragon would record another ace to give the Cats an early 9-7 lead, but the Eagles would pull away this time as they would go on a 7-0 volley run to go up 20-12 on the Cats. Senior Sam Brown capped off a 5-0 run with a spike to keep the Wildcats close, but St. Edward would take the second set 25-20 to even the series.
St. Edward would carry their momentum into the third set, owning an early 12-8 lead. The Wildcats didn’t have an answer for the Eagles and would fall behind 22-13 in the set. A couple of errors from the Eagles and a Ragon spike would get the Cats close, but the third set belonged to the Eagles with a 25-16 score to lead the series 2-1.
The Wildcats had their back against the wall heading into the fourth set as they sought to extend the match to a fifth set. In one of the most extensive sets of the season, the Wildcats rose to the challenge. There would be three lead changes in the early stages of the set, with the Eagles having the advantage at 10-7.
After an error from the Wildcats, it appeared bleak as the Cats fell behind 18-12 to the Eagles, but it was a Brown spike that seemed to have turned the tide for the boys in Blue and Gold. A 7-1 run by the Cats would tie the score at 19 in the fourth set. From there, the game hung in the balance, with the Eagles clinging to a 23-22 lead and just two points away from taking the victory.
An early contestant for rally of the year from the Cats came down the stretch in the fourth set as a Jacob Thomas and Brown spike would give the Wildcats a 24-23 advantage. After an error from the Eagles, the Wildcats remained alive and forced a fifth and deciding set, winning 25-23.
This would be the third contest to go into a fifth set this season for the Wildcats and the rejuvenated bunch came out on fire to take an early 7-4 advantage after a block from Slater. The Eagles would cut the advantage to 8-6, but it was all Wildcats from that point forward. A 7-2 run was capped off by a Brown kill to give the Wildcats a 15-8 set win and would win the series 3-2 against the Eagles.
These two teams will see each other again on April 21 at 7 p.m. from Sullivan Gym. The Wildcats now sit at 4-2 on the season and will be back at home on Friday, March 24, as they host the Firestone Falcons at 7 p.m. from Sullivan Gym. The SIBN will have live coverage of JV and Varsity volleyball from Ohio City.
JV Update: The JV A squad is 2-0 on the season with sweeps of Archbishop Hoban and St. Edward. JV B is 1-0 with a sweep of Medina.