(This article was written and released by Jonathan Guth of the Observer-Reporter. Please click here for the original article!)
CANONSBURG – Canon-McMillan found itself in rare territory Tuesday night against Seneca Valley.
The Big Macs were losing in a boys volleyball match.
Despite the contest being non-section, Canon-McMillan didn’t want to suffer a setback to the Raiders.
The Big Macs were not only defending their undefeated record and No. 4 spot in the Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association rankings, but seeking redemption for a 3-0 loss to Seneca Valley last season in the quarterfinals of the WPIAL Class 3A tournament.
The Raiders came into the match ranked No. 7.
Canon-McMillan lost the first game, 25-22, but rallied to win the next three for a 3-1 victory to improve to 11-0. The Raiders fell to 10-3.
The Big Macs, who are 5-0 in Class 3A Section 1, start the second half of section play Thursday when they host Moon. The junior varsity starts at 6 with the varsity to follow at 7:30 p.m. Canon-McMillan topped the Tigers, 3-1, on April 4.
Despite their ranking and undefeated record, the Big Macs and coach Sheila Mitchell aren’t taking anything for granted.
“They (Seneca Valley) come out of a tough section and they have a strong program,” Mitchell said. “We knew this would be a tough match, but it is nice to get a little redemption after they beat us last year. We just have to take it one set at a time.”
Canon-McMillan used a 5-0 run to take an 11-6 lead before Seneca Valley took a 20-19 advantage after a 6-0 run. The Big Macs won six of the next nine points for a 25-23 win in the second game.
Canon-McMillan was down to its last point four times in the third game, but rallied for a 27-25 victory. The Raiders had a 24-20 lead before the Big Macs scored the next five points for a one-point advantage.
Seneca Valley tied the game at 25 before Canon-McMillan won the next two points.
“Our players don’t stop,” Mitchell said. “It’s hard to see 24-20 on the scoreboard, but when you know that you have big hitters and strong defense, you are not too hard.”
The Big Macs carried the momentum into the fourth game for a 25-20 victory.
Senior Nick Kopec played baseball last year but wanted to play volleyball this season to finish his high school years with his brother, Ben.
“We hauled in that third set,” Kopec said. “We came together as a team, and we blew through the roof. We just showed how we work as a team.”
Mitchell’s team wants to be the school’s first WPIAL champion in the history of the program, which started in 2004.
“We shared a section title last year with Upper St. Clair, and that was our first title,” Mitchell said. “We would like to get another and get it alone, and we would like to go further in WPIALs.”
Senior Owen Ostrowski led in kills with 26. He added nine digs and four blocks. Ostrowski is not going to play volleyball in college, as he wants to concentrate on his studies, but he is enjoying his last year playing volleyball.
“We played them (Seneca Valley) in the regular season last year, and we managed to win a set, and that was a high note for us, but then we got swept by them in the playoffs and that left a bitter taste in our mouth,” Ostrowski said. “We ended our season in the second round last year, and we are looking to go way farther this year. We had different people help out in different positions. My teammates set me up well to get a lot of kills tonight.”
Junior Luke Bockius had 14 kills, 18 digs and three aces. He was on the team last year and enjoyed getting a victory over a top 10 team.
“When you are undefeated, everyone wants to knock you off,” Bockius said. “They were probably our toughest opponent and it feels great to beat them, especially after losing twice to them last year. We also had one of our starting middles hurt this week, but his back-up step in and do a good job.”
Kopec added seven kills, six digs and three blocks. Willam O’Bryan had 22 assists and Justin Peters had 21 and three kills. Xander Krut led the Big Macs in digs with 29.
Seneca Valley: 1
- Owen Ostrowski 26 kills 9 digs 4 blocks
- Luke Bockius 14 kills 18 digs 3 aces
- Nick Kopec 7 kills 6 digs 3 blocks
- Justin Peters 3 kills 21 assists
- Xander Krut 29 digs
- William O’Bryan 22 assists
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