CENTERVILLE – The Mount Vernon High School boys volleyball team just keeps getting better and better.
On Saturday night, the Yellow Jackets won their first ever state tournament mach, beating the host Centerville Elks in four games, 25-18, 25-22, 21-25, 25-22, in the Division I State Quarterfinals.
“This is great,” said Mount Vernon coach Alan Cassell. “The kids worked hard and we had a great week of practice. We came in confident. It is a tremendous win for our program.”
Mount Vernon senior Ben Miglin said, “This is huge. We’ve been waiting for this all year. We’ve got a few players that have been here three times and never won. I don’t think we have ever been more pumped up for a match. It is great to get here and get this win, finally.”
Centerville (21-6) gave Mount Vernon (24-3) a challenge, but each time, the Jackets answered the call. The result was two solid win to open the match. In Game 3, however, the Elks got on top early and Mount Vernon could never overtake them. Centerville went on to win by four, forcing a fourth game. Once again, the Elks took the lead early, but this time Mount Vernon rallied behind the serving of Miglin to take a solid lead and coasted to a match win.
“We knew that they were going to be a good team because we played them earlier in the season,” said Miglin. “We came out as hard as we could in those first two games, and in that third game, we were a little down. They got us in that game but we came back in the fourth because we knew that they would have the crowd’s momentum.”
The key for Mount Vernon was making some adjustments from the first time it had beaten Centerville in four games.
“We beat them once before, so we just tried to practice against some big hitters because they are a big, strong team,” Coach Cassell said. “They hit the ball hard; we tried to do some special things to combat that, and our kids played hard.
“We started a different rotation than we had all season. We tried to do a little matchup with their players based upon what we saw before, and it seemed to work. They started playing better, started hitting the ball harder, and we had to really work for it.”
The Jackets advance to Sunday’s State Semifinal match against defending state champion Cincinnati Moeller. The Crusaders defeated Cleveland St. Ignatius in three games on Saturday afternoon. Mount Vernon has faced Moeller twice this season, splitting the pair.
“We’re excited to get to play (Moeller) again,” said coach Cassell. “This will be the rubber match for the season. They beat us in the first match of the season, and we beat them here at the Centerville Elite Tournament. They are a little different team. Centerville was a power team, but Moeller will finesse us a little more. All we are going to do is enjoy this tonight, get something to eat and try to get rested up for Moeller.”
The state semifinal will begin at 12:45 p.m. at Centerville High School. A win would advance Mount Vernon to the state final at 7 p.m. on Sunday against the winner of the other semifinal between Cincinnati Elder and Hilliard Darby, both winners on Saturday.
“This is huge for the program,” said Miglin. “This is the first time we’ve been to the semifinals, but we’ve played Moeller twice this season. We know we can compete with these teams. We just have to play our game.”