Weekly Feature

2018-11-07 / Sports

Marauders volleyball falls in Monsignor Martin final


St. Joe’s had Canisius on the ropes in the second set of the Monsignor Martin boys volleyball championship Thursday. They led 20-15, just five points away from tying the 18-time champions at one set apiece.

But the Crusaders stormed back to tie it at 22. The Marauders got another point on a spike to take a 23-22 lead again. There was a long volley on the next possession, but St. Joe’s was called for hitting the ball while it was on the other side of the net. That tied the game at 23, opening the door for a 25-23 Canisius set win.

The Crusaders would then roll to a 25-13 victory in set three to win their 19th-straight Monsignor Martin Title. After a 25-17 first-set loss, the second set was really the Marauders’ chance to take control of the match.

“There was just a couple plays here and there,” St. Joe’s coach Mark Anzalone said. “The one rally that we came down and crushed one, they were able to dig it and we ended up losing that rally. That was a big turning point because we were really hammering balls at them and they called them on the over. That made it 23-23 and it was a big momentum shift as well. We had lost a little momentum, and we started to get it back by banging some balls hard. That was a turning point on that set right there. Momentum wise, that was huge.”

The team’s success in the first two sets was partially driven by the Marauders’ ability to block. Canisius had trouble at times getting the ball past the St. Joe’s blockers, who earned their team quite a few points, especially on runs in the second set.

“Blocking is a big strong point for our team,” Anzalone said. “We’re a good-size team. We have a lot of guys that can jump well, so we get a lot of points on blocking.”

St. Joe’s came out strong and played well against a first-place Canisius team that didn’t have to sweat out many matches this year. But they weren’t intimidated and proved that they could at least play with the Crusaders.

“We can play with them,” Anzalone said. “We are a good volleyball team. We were expecting to have a really good match, we were expecting this to be a good match and it was for the first two sets. We were obviously deflated after dropping the second set. Unfortunately, that carried over to the third set. We do everything in our power to prevent that, but it’s just human nature. It happens sometimes. Canisius got out to a fast start on the third set with some good serving. That set the tone for the set.”

However, it is hard to go into the match against a team that hasn’t lost a Monsignor Martin playoff match this century and be too confident. A sense of helplessness is bound to creep in at some point.

“It’s almost impossible for it not to creep in there,” Anzalone said. “But I thought our guys stayed mentally strong, at least through the first two, and we didn’t do so well in the third game, but we were in a good mind frame to come in and win this game.”

In all, it was a solid season for the Marauders, who finished second in Monsignor Martin and made it all the way to championship. Although they wanted to win it all, the team has a lot to be happy about in 2018.

“Our goal was to win the whole thing, but if you’re not going to win the whole thing, this is the second best,” Anzalone said. “But I’m pleased with the way the guys played. But the guys played hard; they played for each other. They hustled the whole time. I’m pleased with the level of volleyball we played.

“I felt like we had a balanced team. I felt like everyone contributed one way or another. I feel like we don’t have one guy that stands out. Maybe some teams have one or two that stand out, but I felt like we had six or seven guys that contributed all the way through.”

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