April 28th, 2015

St. X powers past Rocks for state title

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer


St. X powers past Rocks for state title
The Tigers swept Trinity in three sets to win their eighth volleyball state title in nine years / photo by Eric Thorne

What it may have lacked in experience, St. Xavier’s volleyball team made up for in intensity as the host Tigers swept Trinity 27-25, 25-20, 25-16 Tuesday night to claim their eighth state championship in nine years.

With only two seniors to honor on senior night, the Tigers knew they had to use the experience of libero Brandon Edwards and the youthful firepower of left hitter Desmond Ridder. Together they helped St. X totally drain the energy out of the Shamrocks.

“We knew what we had to do when we walked in the gym tonight,” said Edwards, a three-year varsity player. “We had to come out and play as a team and not as individuals, and that was the difference. It took us awhile to get in sync this year as a team, but we came together in the end and this is a great feeling.”

The two teams split matches against each other this season, but it was St. X that was much more the aggressor this time. Following a fierce opening set that saw neither squad build more than a three-point lead, the second was all St. X as it led nearly the entire way. Set No. 3 saw Trinity try to regain the momentum, but it was short-lived as the Shamrocks faltered after leading 7-5.

“That was certainly not the way I expected things to go with us being a more experienced team,” Trinity head coach Richard Weaver said. “We started strong, but once we got in a hole in the first set our energy kind of dropped. You play to 25 points and we had over a dozen unforced errors on our side of the net, and when you give them half the points it doesn’t help. I give St. X all the credit, though. They played great, didn’t let up and they earned it.”

The opening set saw the lead change hands six times to go with 13 ties. Trinity moved ahead 25-24, but a net serve evened the score and then the 6-foot 3 Ridder drilled back-to-back thunder kills to give St. X the set.

“Oh yeah, that was very big game, but then X and Trinity are always that way,” said Ridder, who is just a sophomore. “The key was to get out early and not let up. You have to play with energy, intensity and you just have to keep bringing it.”

Ridder, a quarterback on St. X’s JV football team, knows what it is like to lead by example and his actions have shown that since he moved from middle to left hitter midway through the season.

St. X coach Ward Lotze tried numerous lineup and position changes this year before the Tigers finally found their grove two weeks ago at the Warrior Classic at Wapahani High School in Selma, Ind.

“Desmond moved over to left and he really took advantage of the opportunity and more playing time, and he became a leader out there,” Lotze said. “Brandon really starting playing well and leading us as a senior should. He is a very smart player and Desmond is very athletic. This whole team is made up of very good athletes and over the past two weeks really have put it together.”

Trinity scored the first point of the second set, only to see Ridder pound two more kills along with Kyle Barnett and Peyton Byrne as the lead surged to seven. Trinity got as close as 18-15 on net blocks by Matthew Hess and Jack Nagel, but the Rocks’ hitting errors returned, allowing St. X to easily finish out the set.

The Rocks started strong in the final set with kills by Josh Daily, Hess and Luke Archer, but when St. X regained the lead at 8-7, the Rocks didn’t have enough fight left.

“I am very proud of these kids with only two seniors, Brandon Edwards and Jackson Krauser, after losing seven seniors last year,” Lotze said. “This was a rivalry game with the state championship on the line and they all stepped up big.”

Krauser led St. X with nine kills, Ridder added eight and Adam Schweitzer finished with five. On defense, Krauser came up with 10 digs while Edwards had nine.

For Edwards, winning a third state championship never gets old.

“It was a special group last year with all the seniors, but I came back because I really wanted to play with my best friend Jackson in our senior year,” Edwards said. “Going to St. X gives you these types of opportunities to play for championships, and I will never ever forget the memories of being part of these teams.”

 

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