Boys spikers second at Middleton Invite

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Andrew Lepage (left) and Brian Verganz helped Middleton's boys volleyball team finish second at its own invite./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The boys state volleyball tournament remains a month away.

But a mini-state tournament took place at Middleton High School last Saturday. And the host Cardinals showed they could be ready for a memorable postseason.

Middleton welcomed 10 of the state’s top 12 teams for the Cardinal Invite. The host Cardinals then reached the championship match before falling to defending state champion and No. 1 Milwaukee Marquette, 25-17, 25-21.

“Very proud of what we accomplished,” Middleton coach Ben White said.

With good reason.

A year ago, Middleton struggled at its own tournament and finished 14th out of 16 teams. Not this year, though.

“We had the bad taste in our mouth from last year,” White said, “We didn't want to repeat history.”

They didn’t.

Middleton went 3-0 in pool play to move into the championship bracket. The Cardinals defeated Fort Atkinson, 21-8, 21-11, rallied past Catholic Memorial 22-23, 21-16, 15-8, and defeated Brookfield East, 21-17, 21-19.

In the quarterfinals, Middleton defeated Muskego, 25-18, 25-13. Middle blockers Sam Dettman and Brian Verganz had big games, while Andrew Lepage, Thomas Robson and Dylan Griffith all had strong passing games.

“Muskego is big and swing hard, but they didn't have much of a match for our middles,” White said. “In the afternoon matches, Brian (Verganz) really stepped up and showed that he is one of the top middles in the state. Andrew ran a great show and our passing behind Thomas Robson and Dylan Griffith allowed us to pretty much run whatever we wanted. I was nervous how the guys would play after a two-plus hour break, but they were able to get better and better as the match went along.”

Middleton met No. 3 Kaukauna in the semifinals and notched a stunning 25-12, 25-9 win. The Cardinals rolled in the first game, then Kaukauna benched its starters for game two and Middleton cruised.

“Our 25-12 win in game one was probably one of the most dominant performances we have had this year, especially against such a high ranking team,” White said. “In Game 2 … we took care of business against their back-ups. We advanced to the finals of the Cardinal Invite for the first time in school history.”

In the championship match, Middleton and Marquette were tied, 8-8, in the first game. But the Hilltoppers went on a big run and notched a 25-17 win.

Marquette built a 10-5 lead in Game 2 when White took a timeout.

“There was no strategy being talked about,” White said. “It was all about attitude and the opportunity before us. Either we roll over and let them win, or we battle and fight the rest of the way.”

Middleton most certainly battled, trimming the deficit to 18-16. Marquette had too much firepower, though, and finished off a 25-21 win.

“As I told the guys, after spotting them a 10-5 lead, we outscored them 16-15 down the stretch,” White said. “We proved for 30-plus points in a row that we can more than compete with them.”

Middleton also defeated Fort Atkinson, 25-16, 26-24, 18-25, 25-17, last Tuesday.

Eagan Peters-Michaud led Middleton with 13 kills, three aces and two blocks, while Avery Krantz had 10 kills. Verganz had nine kills and two blocks, while Dettman had eight kills.

Brady Schmitt had 29 assists, Matt Ballweg had 13 assists, Griffith had 16 digs and Casey McKean added two blocks.

Middleton played without Robson, an all-state libero, and Lepage, its starting setter.

“When you are missing your two most experienced players and probably the two most crucial positions in volleyball, you can expect to have a difficult contest no matter who you are playing,” White said. “Brady Schmitt and Matt Ballweg both set for us in the match. Both played with a high amount of confidence, which is necessary at that position.

“I really liked Brady's decision-making in the contest. Dylan played libero for us and his passing was outstanding all day. Our real struggle was focus and missed serves. We missed 18 serves on the day and got destroyed on the serving game. Luckily our front row was able to overcome all the errors and be a presence at the net. A win is a win and you move on.”

Middleton then toppled Franklin, 25-15, 25-13, 25-7, last Friday.

Eagan Peters-Michaud led the Cardinals with six kills, while Verganz had six kills and four blocks. McKean and Dettman both had five kills and Robson had 13 digs. Lepage added 13 assists, while Jacob Nonn had three aces and Max McDonough had two blocks.

“I scheduled two matches on Friday nights this year because the state quarterfinals are always played on a Friday,” White said. “We have to have that mentality of what it's like to play on a Friday night, then turn around Saturday morning and play again.

“We cleaned up the serving more in this match. We had great balance on the net as we had eight players with at least two kills. It was great to get the guys playing together again after about 12 days without being full strength.”

• On deck: Middleton hosts Madison Memorial Wednesday in a battle for first place in the Big Eight. The Cardinals are then at Germantown Friday at 5 p.m.

“It’s the biggest non-conference match we have had since I have been head coach,” White said. “Germantown is probably a top-five team and we know how big of test this will be.”

Middleton then heads to the star-studded Whitefish Bay Invite Saturday, a tournament that includes state powers New Berlin, Kettle Moraine, Germantown and Milwaukee Pius.

“We know we have to keep playing at a high level to get where we want to go in November,” White said.

 

Sept. 20

Cardinal Invite

Pool A: Middleton 3-0, Catholic Memorial 2-1, Brookfield East 1-2, Fort Atkinson 0-3

Pool B: Kaukauna 3-0, Wauwatosa East 2-1, Arrowhead 1-2, Madison Memorial 0-3

Pool C: Marquette 3-0, Mukwonago 2-1, Pius 1-2, Kimberly 0-3

Pool D: Kettle Moraine 2-1, Muskego 2-1, Germantown 2-1, Franklin 0-3
(KM def. Muskego 2-0, Muskego def. Germantown 2-1, Germantown def. KM 2-1 - KM gets 1 seed as 3-2 in head-to-head. Muskego 2 seed based on head-to-head win over Germantown)

Consolation Semifinals:

Franklin def. Fort Atkinson 25-19, 25-23

Kimberly def. Madison Memorial 25-20, 25-21

Consolation Championship

Franklin def. Kimberly 20-25, 25-22, 16-14

Championship Bracket 1st Round:

Muskego def. Arrowhead 22-25, 30-28, 15-11

Brookfield East def. Mukwonago 25-19, 25-19

Germantown def. Wauwatosa East 25-22, 25-17

Pius def. Catholic Memorial 25-22, 25-22

 

Championship Bracket Quarterfinals:

Middleton def. Muskego 25-18, 25-13

Kaukauna def. Brookfield East 25-21, 16-25, 16-14

Marquette def. Germantown 25-16, 25-22

Kettle Moraine def. Pius 25-15, 25-18

 

Championship Bracket Semifinals:

Middleton def. Kaukauna 25-12, 25-9

Marquette def. Kettle Moraine 25-22, 25-13

 

Championship:

Marquette def. Middleton 25-17, 25-21

 

 

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