Boys spikers dominate all-Big 8 team

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton senior outside hitter Kevin McMahon was named the Big Eight Conference’s Player of the Year./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Once again, they were the beasts of the Big Eight Conference and a force across the state.

So it was certainly no surprise that Middleton’s boys volleyball team was well represented on the all-conference team.

Senior outside hitter Kevin McMahon was named first-team all-conference, was the league’s Player of the Year and received honorable-mention all-state honors.

Senior middle blocker Blake Sprecher was a first-team all-conference selection, received high honorable-mention all-state honors and was voted Middleton’s MVP.

Sophomore libero Thomas Robson was named first-team all-conference. Senior middle hitter Pace Balster and sophomore setter Andrew Lepage were named second-team all-Big Eight, while junior middle blocker Cole Spitler was named honorable-mention all-conference.

Middleton’s Ben White was also named the Big Eight’s Coach of the Year.

McMahon led Middleton with 303 kills and had a terrific .294 kill percentage. McMahon was also second on the team in digs (160), second in blocks (48) and third in aces (19).

“Kevin did absolutely everything for us except drive the bus to and from matches,” White said of McMahon. “But he might be able to because he does have a pretty nice minivan. 

“It wasn’t just his offense that helped carry us, it was his defense, as well. Besides filling the stat sheet, Kevin was a leader on and off the court. 

“He is a member of the school’s Link Crew and a mentor to freshmen in the school. He showed these younger players how you can balance academics with athletics and be successful at both. Kevin is one of the best all-around players to come through this program. His consistency is what will be missed on the court. His leadership will be tough to replace off the court.”

Sprecher had a remarkable senior season, finishing second on the team in kills (218) and first in blocks (69). Sprecher averaged 2.80 kills per game, led Middleton in aces (24) and was sixth in digs (44).

“Not many people in the state could match-up with Blake,” White said. “He earned the name ‘Big Rig’ this year and it is a great description, because once he gets going, just get out of his way because he’s going to take over. 

“What was so impressive about Blake was his ability to take the younger players on the court under his wing and lead them. We had a lot of young players on the squad and Blake could be both forceful and encouraging and he did it at the appropriate times. 

“When Blake was on, he was unstoppable and we rode him to the state tournament. He and Kevin were the top-two vote getters in the conference and it was really well-deserved. Proud to see Blake receive high honorable-mention all-state as one of the top-20 players in the state.”

Robson was one of the top libero’s in the state. He led Middleton in digs (309) and was one of the top serve returners anywhere.

“Not often you have a sophomore who can take over a match in the back row,” White said. “Thomas earned his way into the starting line-up early in his freshman year, and he hasn’t done anything but excel as a libero since he was put in the line-up. He now owns the record of most digs in a season and will hold the career record early sometime next season. 

“After the state tournament, I told Thomas if I was a sophomore I would be pretty proud of what I accomplished and proud that New Berlin’s game plan was to keep the ball away from him. He was only served twice the whole match. But it also shows that Thomas needs to be more aggressive in the back row and that will come in time — hopefully next year. I’m really excited that he has two years left.”

Balster was third on the team with 140 kills and his kill percentage was a solid .272. Balster was also third on the team in blocks (45).

“Pace was given a gift. It wasn’t just a gift in his ability to jump, it’s his ability to hang,” White said. “It’s almost like he flies. It’s spectacular to watch. And once he figured out how to hit while flying, he became a force. 

“Pace did everything we asked of him and more. I hope he continues to play the sport as his best volleyball is ahead of him.”

Lepage led the Cardinals with 554 assists, an average of 6.80 per game. Lepage was also fourth in aces (18) and fifth in digs (68).

“No player grew more this year as a player than Andrew,” White said “And he still has a huge ceiling these next two years. 

“He earned more and more playing time and a bigger role on the team because of his abilities and decision-making. And he earned the trust of his teammates. Andrew is gaining confidence each and every day and he knows what he needs to do to help lead this team in the future.”

Spitler took on a prominent role after an injury to Jordan Futch and he made the most of it. Spitler finished fourth on the team in kills (78) and fourth in blocks (27).

“Cole was thrown into the fire this year as soon as we knew Jordan was out for the season,” White said. “What was supposed to be a learning year for Cole turned into a year of productivity and becoming a weapon out of the middle. By the end of the year it was my belief after watching all these teams in the postseason that we had one of the best middle combinations in the state and it was our goal to have the ball run through the middle to beat the other teams. 

“The best part of Cole was his consistency. He was always going to give you 100% and give you everything he could on the court. And Cole is still in the early stages of figuring this game out. Hopefully with a year under his belt on the varsity level and some club volleyball in his future, he’ll come back with more confidence in his playing ability.”

Middleton also handed out two other awards at its postseason banquet.

Senior outside hitter Jacob Ross received the Coaches Award.

“Every year we hand out an award to the player that best represents the Middleton Volleyball program,” White said. “Hands down the winner this year was Jacob Ross. 

“Jacob did all the little things that you never asked anyone to do — both on and off the court. He is a natural-born leader and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. 

“Jacob went from a defensive specialist to an all-around player due to the fact we couldn’t afford to take his hustle and determination off the court. No player played above their bounds more than Jacob. A true class act and great kid — the type of player that you would take 15 of and field your team with in a heartbeat.”

Junior defensive specialist Ben Miller was named Middleton’s Most Improved Player.

“Every player on this team improved physically,” White said. “No player improved more mentally than Ben. He went from questioning everything about his play, pushing and pressing too much, to becoming confident in his abilities and focused on his strengths. 

“Once Ben adopted the mindset that he was going to become the best player he could be and not worry about trying to impress anyone, he became a solid defensive specialist that we knew he was.”

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