Boys spikers struggle at Racine Invite

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel

Ben White likes to remind people that no one reaches a state tournament in September.

But White, Middleton’s boys volleyball coach, also knows his team has miles to travel if it hopes to qualify for state in November.

The Cardinals traveled to the Racine Park Invite last Saturday and had an up and down day. Middleton went 2-1 in pool play, but then fell in the first round of the playoffs to Milwaukee Pius.

Admittedly, White was hoping Middleton’s day would last a little longer.

“Well if you are going to make mistakes, better to make them early in the year rather than late in the year,” White said. “And we made plenty. 

“Not to take anything away from the teams that beat us, but we did a great job of helping them out along the way. All the mistakes we made are correctable, but we know we are still looking for one more hitter or someone to take more control of the team.”

Cardinals senior outside hitter Kevin McMahon had 29 kills and 11 digs on the day. Senior middle blocker Blake Sprecher had 18 kills, nine blocks and five aces.

Senior middle hitter Pace Balster added 16 kills and four blocks, while senior setter Matthew Caamal had 37 assists and sophomore setter Andrew Lepage added 32 assists.

Sophomore libero Thomas Robson had 23 digs, junior defensive specialist Ben Miller had 11 digs and senior outside hitter Jacob Ross had three aces.

Middleton opened with a 21-16, 21-12 win over Fond du Lac.

The Cardinals trailed in Game 1, 15-14, but closed on a 7-1 run. Middleton then ran away in Game 2.

“(When) we were down 15-14, I took my one and only timeout,” White said. “I just looked at the guys, told them to relax and remember that this wasn’t the first time they’ve played volleyball and they should probably have some fun since we spent two hours in a bus getting there.”

Middleton then rolled past Union Grove, 21-7, 21-15. Sprecher had five aces, three kills and three blocks kills.

“Union Grove had no answer for Blake and Pace in the middle,” White said.

Middleton then fell to Kenosha Tremper, 21-15, 21-19. McMahon had 11 kills in the two games, while Sprcher and Balster combined for eight kills and no errors.

But Middleton was plagued by too many unforced errors.

“We also need to play with a little more edge and a little more urgency,” White said. “All that comes in time and getting more experience. 

“It will happen, but will just take a couple of weeks instead of a couple of days. If these guys really commit and buy-in to winning with defense, we’ll be able to more than compete with the big dogs.”

In the playoffs, Milwaukee Pius defeated Middleton 19-21, 21-19, 15-11.

“We had opportunities to win, we just made more silly mistakes when it came to net violations, missed serves and poor decisions,” White said.

Middleton hosts Fort Atkinson Thursday at 6:30 p.m., then is at the Wauwatosa East Invite Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. And White and his Cardinals will take aim at improving, knowing they have plenty of time to cure what ails them.

“All of this can be cleaned up,” White said. “The boys just need to relax and have as much fun in a match as they do in a practice. I know it’s in them and it’s my job to bring it out. I have patience and we’ll get there.”

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