Boys spikers fare well at Bay

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel

They’ve proven time and time again they can play with best the state has to offer.

Now, Middleton’s boys volleyball team is looking for a way to get over that proverbial hump.

The Cardinals gave another solid showing at last Saturday’s Whitefish Bay Invitational. Middleton reached the quarterfinals, before losing to eventual runner-up New Berlin United.

“This loss hurt, but once again we proved we can play with a top-five team,” Middleton coach Ben White said. “We had ample opportunities, but to New Berlin's credit they made plays.  

“I said it last week and I'll say it again — we're looking for a closer. And we need one more person to step up and take that last spot in the rotation.”

Middleton played the tournament without Jacob Ross and Chandler Squires, who were both battling injuries. But the Cardinals certainly held their own.

Middleton went 2-1 in pool play and advanced to the championship bracket.

The Cardinals defeated West Allis Hale, 21-6, 21-10. Kettle Moraine toppled Middleton 21-14, 21-14.

Then the Cardinals upended Kenosha Tremper, 21-16, 21-14.

Pace Balster led the Cardinals with 12 kills against West Allis Hale.

Kettle Moraine, which won the tournament, then rolled past Middleton.

“At this point it is easy to see that Kettle Moraine is at a different level than most of us,” White said. “We lost both games pretty easily and that's because Kettle Moraine puts all the pressure on you throughout the match.  

“They have many weapons and their setter is an amazing athlete. Sometimes you have to tip your hat.”  

The Cardinals then toppled Kenosha Tremper and advanced to the championship bracket. Cardinals senior outside hitter Kevin McMahon had a huge match, with 13 kills in 20 attempts and zero errors.

“Kevin McMahon has had a lot of big matches for us, but this was his best,” White said. “That's an amazing (kill) percentage.

“And Andrew (Lepage) did a great job of delivering big sets when needed. Also, when Tremper was making a little run in game one, Cole Spitler had back-to-back block kills to seal the deal. Very good win for us and moved us to the championship bracket.”

There, the Cardinals hung tough with an extremely gifted New Berlin outfit. But Middleton fell, 25-21, 25-23.

McMahon finished the tournament with 31 kills, 14 digs and five blocks, while senior Blake Sprecher had 24 kills, four blocks and three aces. Balster had 19 kills and four blocks, while Lepage had 74 assists.

Thomas Robson had 24 digs, Matthew Camaal had three aces and Cole Spitler had four blocks.

“They have two huge outside hitters,” White said of New Berlin. “We have a big middle (Sprecher). We tried to attack the middle as much as possible, and we did that.  

“Blake and Cole combined for 11 kills and one error and truthfully they didn’t get set enough. We had chances but were unable to finish.”

Middleton also rolled to a pair of Big Eight Conference wins last week and improved to 9-0 in the league.

The Cardinals rolled past Madison Memorial, 25-5, 25-16, 25-12, last Tuesday.

Sprecher led the way with seven kills, six aces and three blocks, while McMahon had six kills. Lepage added 15 assists, Camaal had seven assists, Robson had four digs and Balster had three blocks.

“Guys served really well, especially Blake Sprecher who led us in aces,” White said. “Memorial is a very young team and they have athletes who are learning the sport.  

“I'm guessing in the next two years they’ll challenge us. But right now with Kevin, Blake and Pace at the net, we are just too big for them. It was a good win for us and moved us another step closer to the conference championship.”

Middleton also toppled Beloit Memorial, 25-16, 25-19, 25-8, last Thursday.

McMahon had 13 kills and three blocks, while Sprecher had seven kills and three blocks. Lepage added 24 assists and two aces, while Robson had seven digs.

“In our first two sets against Beloit we played very uninspired volleyball,” White said. “We went through the motions. We are talented enough to win and we did, but it wasn't good volleyball.  

“This week we also spoke at length about being stronger individuals. We are the nicest team in the state. No one is more polite than we are and on the court sometimes that means you defer to your teammate.

“Well we are looking to play with a little more swagger and spunk. We addressed that between games, and in the final set versus Beloit we had a little swagger to our game. Pace Balster had some big kills and blocks and he set the tone. Blake played all the way around and I think it kept him more in the match when he got to the front row.”

• On deck: Middleton hosted Arrowhead Tuesday, then heads to Madison East Thursday for its final conference meet of the season. With a win, the Cardinals will clinch their ninth conference title in 10 years.

On Saturday, Middleton hosts a round-robin tournament that includes top-10 teams Appleton North, New Berlin and Nicolet.  

“Huge test for us,” White said. “I’m really looking forward to this week.”

 

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