Boys spikers roll at 'Tosa East Invite

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton boys volleyball coach Ben White has his team playing at an extremely high level./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Middleton’s boys’ volleyball team jumped to No. 3 in the state rankings last week.

Then, the Cardinals went out and proved the voters know what they’re talking about.

Middleton won the eight-team Wauwatosa East Invite on Sept. 15, rolling past Waukesha West, 25-19, 25-19, in the finals.

The Cardinals opened with a 25-21, 26-24 win over Nicolet in a match that began at 9 a.m. Middleton trailed in the first set, 19-17, before finishing on an 8-2 run thanks to terrific serving and defense by Dylan Griffith. The second set was a battle, but Middleton used its size to its advantage and had some big blocks in the middle by Owen Engling to shut Nicolet down.

“Our play has followed our pattern throughout the season,” Middleton coach Ben White said. “Start a little slow and peak by the end.

“I think one of our goals is going to be to start a little faster in those early matches, but luckily WIAA playoffs don't have a 9 a.m. start time. Nicolet is a sneaky good team. Excellent setter, good size in the middle and solid fundamentals. They pushed us pretty good in both sets.”

Middleton then defeated Wauwatosa East, 25-27, 25-14, 15-6. It was the only time all day the Cardinals were pushed to three sets.

“Wauwatosa East is a very young team and has a very big outside hitter,” White said. “They played with a lot of intensity, but we also helped them out.

“In set one alone we had seven missed serves, one foot fault and three net violations. That's 11 free points for the other team. It’s hard to overcome that big of hole.”

But the Cardinals bounced back and played terrific volleyball the rest of the way to dispose of the Red Raiders.

“Sets two and three we played solid volleyball,” White said. “Junior Scott Buros took advantage of his playing time in those sets and did a nice job at the outside.”

Middleton followed that with a 25-17, 25-15 pasting of Shorewood.

“Everyone contributed to the action,” White said. “It was fun to watch 6-foot-6 Owen Engling serve two aces and get three digs in his short stint in the back row.”

In the semifinals, the Cardinals met Wauwatosa East again and cruised to a 25-16, 25-12 win.

“We controlled both sets from the beginning and really attacked their middles with Sam (Dettman) and Owen (Engling),” White said.

The Cardinals followed that with an impressive win over a Waukesha West team ranked No. 11.

“Both sets were back and forth until the very end when we would go on some nice runs,” White said. “The defense by Eagan (Peters-Michaud) and Dylan (Griffith) really helped our cause, and the size of Parker (Van Buren), Owen and Sam was a big difference maker.

“Matt Ballweg ran a great show and his connections with Sam and Owen keep getting better and better. Owen probably had the best day I've seen him have in person. If we can develop to have four solid options in the front row, we'll be a very tough out.”

Middleton also rolled past Madison Memorial, 25-17, 25-14, 25-7 in a Big Eight Conference match last Thursday.

Peters-Michaud led the Cardinals with 13 kills and four aces, while Van Buren had eight kills, three aces and two blocks. Dettman had eight kills, Griffith had 11 digs and three aces, Matt Ballweg had 28 assists and Nick Stott had nine assists.

Middleton had 14 aces, hit .252 as a team and kept Memorial out of system all day. And in the third set, Stott — a sophomore — put on a serving clinic. When Stott went back to serve, the score was 3-3. When he finished, Middleton held a 21-4 lead.

“Madison Memorial is always going to be a rivalry of Middleton's in every sport and we always take our matches with them very seriously because of the rivalry and the athletes they are able to put on the court with coach Steve Collins leading the squad,” White said. “However, Memorial had some unfortunate things happen to their team this season as their best outside hitter didn't come out for the team to focus on baseball and their best middle was out with an injury when they played us. So they were a little undermanned.”



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