Boys spikers win Big 8 again

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton’s boys volleyball team won the Big Eight Conference title last week./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Been there, done that.

But that doesn’t make it any less special.

Middleton’s boys volleyball team, which has dominated the Big Eight Conference for years now, kept its reign of terror going last week.

Middleton rolled to a 25-13, 26-24, 25-20 win over Madison West and locked up its sixth straight conference crown. The Cardinals have also won 11 of the last 12 league championships.

Middleton’s last loss in conference came in 2011 and it’s 104-4 in conference duals dating back to 2006.

“I think the main thing is everyone takes pride in the program,” Middleton coach Ben White said. “The varsity team cares about how the JV and freshmen teams are doing weekly. And truthfully, the alumni are always checking in on the varsity team. 
“We preach fundamentals and having fun. I know it sounds simple, but that truly is high school athletics. If you can get the kids to have fun and win, then winning breeds winning. We know we have targets on our back anytime we walk into another conference school's gym.

“Our match with that opponent is usually their biggest match of the year. We cannot take a night off as we know we will get our opponent’s best shot. Even though we've been dominant, knowing how big each match is for our opponent makes us stay focused each match.”

Middleton cruised to an easy win in the first set against the Regents

“I think we shell shocked them a little,” White said. “We were clicking on all cylinders.”

West hung around throughout the second set. But the Cardinals prevailed when Brian Verganz ended the set with a spike kill and a block kill.

In the third set, the Cardinals jumped to a big lead, then withstood a mini-rally by the Regents.

Casey McKean led Middleton with 11 kills and hit .647 for the match. Sam Dettman had eight kills and hit .667 for the match.

Eagan Peters-Michaud had nine kills, while Andrew Lepage had 33 assists and Thomas Robson added 24 digs.

“Madison West and Madison Memorial are two very, very improved teams,” White said. “We knew the conference schedule was back-loaded with those two teams towards the end of our conference schedule.

“Playing at Madison West on their Parent's Night, and having beat them pretty easily at the Racine Invite early in the year, we knew we were going to get their best match. And I think we did.”

Middleton then went 2-2 at its own round robin Saturday.

The Cardinals opened with a 25-12, 25-14 win over Kenosha Indian Trail.

“Most of their points in the first set were our serving and hitting errors,” White said. “But we were able to take care of business and move on.”

Middleton then met third-ranked New Berlin, which toppled the Cardinals 25-13, 25-23.

“First time we've seen them this year and they are better than I thought,” White said of New Berlin. “Besides having the top outside hitter in state, their middles can do a lot of damage and their setter is very smart and tall. These guys put up a big block.

“We were beaten badly in set one and never really showed any fight. Set two was the play I thought we were capable of. We were led by Eagan, who had eight kills in that set alone. This was by far his best match both offensively and defensively. He and Thomas Robson owned the back row and Andrew was able to go to the hot hand. But we just couldn't sneak out a win.”

Middleton bounced back with a 25-17, 23-25, 15-13 win over Nicolet.

“Nicolet also has a strong outside hitter who can cause problems,” White said. “We negated him in set one and played fairly well.

“Set two I got some more guys in and they played really well. However, Nicolet forced us to a set three. We finally were able to get a two-point win and was hoping to ride that momentum against Appleton North.”

That didn’t happen, though, as Appleton North defeated the Cardinals, 25-23, 25-22.

“North is huge,” White said. “Both sets were very close, but both times it came down to unfortunate mistakes whether it was missed serves down the stretch or poor hitting decisions. This was a costly loss in terms of potential seeding at state tournament, but I think now that we went 2-2 on the day, we need to go back and focus on making state and not who we play or when we play.

“We were putting the cart before the horse and that's on me as I was trying to use it as motivation. Maybe it backfired and we put too much pressure on ourselves. For the next two weeks, we'll relax a little, focus up on our weaknesses and get back to playing the volleyball we were playing in September.”

 

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