BEXLEY — The Mount Vernon volleyball team’s stellar season came to an end in the semifinals of the Division I state playoffs at Capital University Sunday. The Jackets defeated Lakota East on Saturday to advance to the final four and then lost to Archbishop Moeller of Cincinnati 25-14, 25-16, 25-22 yesterday.
Mount Vernon had its best set in the third in the semifinals match but ultimately lost to Moeller, which had previously qualified for the state playoffs 15 times and had won seven state titles since 1997. After Moeller won, it then lost to St. Xavier in the finals.
Mount Vernon (26-3) started out shaky in their first match of the weekend against Lakota East but eventually outlasted the Thunderhawks 18-25, 25-18, 20-25, 25-13, 15-10.
Jackets head coach Chad Sivewright attributed both the slow start on Saturday and the match against Moeller on Sunday to nerves since none of the current players had ever gotten this far in the playoffs. The Mount Vernon program as a whole has only been this far in the playoffs in two previous years — 2010 and 2012 —while many of the other teams in the tournament came from big city areas and had many more years of state playoff action.
“I think today was just a matter of getting into our game early,” Sivewright said after Saturday’s quarterfinals win. “Lakota East is a really good team, but it was just a matter of us getting into our game. That first set we got down a little bit, we got behind, it was just a matter of finding our game. We have great teams ahead of us. I think that’s where the jitters came from today. Just get into the mindset of where we’re at.”
Sivewright talked about the jitters again after the loss to Moeller on Sunday.
“I still kinda feel like its such a big stage for guys who really haven’t experienced it yet,” Sivewright said after the loss to Moeller. “As much as we really tried to tell them to just make it about the game and try to shake those (jitters), that’s super hard to do, especially for high school-aged guys. It’s a big stage, playing on the last day of the season — which is super awesome. So I think there was still a little bit of (nerves) there.
“Plus, going against a team that had been here so many times. Every year they’re a part of this. Its old hat to (Moeller) and to us, everything being so new, I just think it became really big.”
The Jackets led for the first half of the third set against Moeller when the combination of outside hitter Corrick Croswell and setter Brandon Grabow started to connect, but the Crusaders went on a 9-3 run and turned the deficit into a 21-16 lead. Croswell got two straight points later and two Crusader errors got the Jackets as close as 24-22 before Moeller ended it.
Croswell and Grabow, along with Spencer Stanley, also played instrumental roles in the Jackets’ win in the quarterfinals, particularly in the fourth and fifth sets that Mount Vernon won.
Croswell, in particular, caught fire in both sets and got the last kill for the win in the deciding game.
“I just knew if was the fifth game and that was gonna be the last set. I just went all out and made sure nothing dropped so we could take it,” Croswell said after Saturday’s win.
Croswell finished the match against Lakota East with 24 kills while Stanley added 18 and Grabow had 51 assists and 13 digs.
Stanley and Croswell both had eight kills in the loss against Moeller and Grabow had 27 assists and seven digs.