MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets boys volleyball team (1-1) stumbled out of the gate like a young colt finding its stride. Fortunately, they recovered nicely and split their tri-match with Lakewood St. Edwards and league rival Hilliard Davidson.
After looking lackluster as Davidson swept them 25-21, 25-23 and 25-23, Mount Vernon, led by Chris Ingersol (21 assists, 10 kills, two digs, two aces), turned it on against St. Edwards downing it, 25-18, 25-14, 19-25 and 25-16. Earlier in the day, St. Edwards had knocked off Hilliard Davidson, 25-20, 25-23, 25-15.
Mount Vernon seemed to want to sleep in on Saturday and wasn’t ready when it faced Davidson. Even so, the Yellow Jackets kept the score pretty close. Carter Cassell led the Jackets with 14 assists and seven kills. Ingersol, who was filling in at middle hitter due to injuries, had 14 assists and five kills. Chris Omahan added nine kills and two blocks.
“We didn’t come out like we wanted to,” said Mount Vernon coach Alan Cassell. “We let a lot of balls touch the floor that we could have gone after. I was pretty disappointed in our effort, but even though we got beat in three games, everyone got a bit better.”
“We were pretty flat,” said Carter Cassell. “We didn’t come out with a lot of emotion. It didn’t seem like we really wanted to be there to play.”
“I don’t know what happened,” said Mount Vernon’s Trey Williams (one kill, two blocks against Davidson). “I think that we were just kind of flat-footed. We just didn’t have the mentality to come out and win that first one. I guess just losing that first one kind of woke us up a little bit and brought us back.”
The Jackets are a young group and are catching up to the speed of varsity level volleyball.
“This is my first year playing varsity,” said Williams. “It is a lot faster for some of the guys that are used to jayvee play. We have three or four guys that came up this year who aren’t even used to the speed. We just have to get used to it and, I think, we did pretty well (against St. Edwards.) We came out with some tenacity against them.”
“Our team has a whole handful of kids that have never played varsity before,” said Carter Cassell. “This is their first varsity action playing, so I think just seeing what it’s like was good and you could tell, after a while, that the team was starting to come together and work more as a unit. For a lot of the kids who played jayvee last year, it’s a totally different game.”
The Jackets defense arose against St. Edwards and made a huge difference.
“We stepped up,” said Carter Cassell (18 assists, 16 kills, two digs, nine blocks, two aces against St. Edwards). “We played much better. We passed great. We had some good hits and blocked well. Overall, we played how we know we can play.”
“We were just more aggressive on defense and we were moving a lot more,” said Williams (two kills, three blocks vs. St. Edwards). I mean, our back row was all over the floor, digging balls and going for everything. Our front row was getting the blocks they needed. We weren’t doing that the first game.”
Corey Sheller added five digs for the Jackets. Teammate Chris Hinger had four kills and seven blocks against St. Edwards, and Zach Roden finished with six kills and one block.
The Jackets showed their mettle as St. Edwards’ middle hitter Owen McAndrews combined with teammate setter Chris Royer to fire a number of kills at the Jackets, who weathered the storm throughout.
“I went up against (McAndrews) most of the game,” said Williams. “He’s a good hitter and he plays solid defense. Their other middle (Will Troxil) was pretty good and their setter (Royer) managed to get the ball where he needed.”
For coach Cassell, getting one in the win column was a relief.
“I was real proud of the kids to come back in the second match,” said coach Cassell. “We showed some intensity and beat a really high quality team like St. Edwards. Playing them is just going to make us better in the year.”