VARDEN — Western Wayne took its fans on an emotional rollercoaster ride Tuesday night in Lackawanna League boys volleyball action.
The Wildcats welcomed Abington Heights to the friendly confines of the Varden Garden for a much-anticipated battle of unbeatens...a battle that certainly lived up to expectations.
Coach Tim Snyder's lads came out flat and lost the opening game, but roared right back to take the next two in convincing fashion.
It appeared as though the 'Cats were on the verge of slamming the door. However, the Comets fought back and claimed the fourth game, which led to a winner-take-all fifth.
Western Wayne did rally to close things out, dominating the visitors from Clarks Summit down the stretch en route to victory. Just moments after this epic encounter, Coach Snyder took a deep breath and dissected the match.
"I don't want to take anything away from Abington," he said.
"They're a very good team. But, we were our own worst enemy tonight. In my mind, we should have won in three straight. We played well in spots, but we really need to be more consistent."
Despite this up & down performance, Western Wayne walked away with a 3-2 decision. The final game scores were 20-25, 25-16, 25-13, 22-25, 15-7.
The Wildcats are now all alone atop the regular season standings with a perfect 6-0 record.
Next up is a Wednesday evening road trip to Blue Ridge for a showdown with the Raiders. That match is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start in New Milford.
Western Wayne committed numerous unforced errors in the early going and Abington quickly took advantage.
Jake Roba ignited the Comets' offense. A 6'4" outside hitter, Roba dominated play at the net in Game One. Jake led his team to a 25-20 win and would finish the night with a match-high 21 kills.
Page 2 of 3 - "Roba is a nice player and he definitely gave us some trouble," Coach Snyder admitted. "But, we made a couple of adjustments. We started serving the ball better, passing and running our offense."
And, that's when momentum shifted to Western Wayne's side.
The Wildcats utterly dominated the second and third games, thanks in large part to the play of Patrick Miller.
A 6'1" junior who is thriving in the front row, Miller overpowered Abington on this particular night. Pat consistently defeated double-teams at the net in piling up a team-best 17 kills.
Miller also contributed a half dozen blocks and sizzled at the service line with three aces.
"Pat played the angles perfectly today," Coach Snyder said. "He had some really nice kills and some very important blocks. Pat's a hard worker who really wants to succeed. He's getting better all the time."
With Miller dominating up front, Western Wayne rolled to a 25-16 win in Game Two and a 25-13 decision in Game Three.
Down to the Wire
Two scrappy players helped Abington pull even via a 25-22 win in Game Four.
Sean Albright registered six kills and eight blocks, while Kevin Schumakar chipped in with 16 digs and four aces.
This set the stage for a dramatic finish. And, with a raucous Varden Garden crowd rattling the rafters, Western Wayne seized control of the match one last time.
Reigning Lackawanna League MVP Michael Trygar paced this final assault. The senior outside hitter unleashed one thunderous spike after another, served consistently and spearheaded a relentless Wildcat defense.
Trygar closed out his evening with 11 kills and nine blocks.
"Mike pushes himself every single day, be it at practice or during a match," Coach Snyder said. "He's our leader out there and he sets the tone."
Page 3 of 3 - Sam Hoch and Jonathan Hanna also contributed key plays for Western Wayne.
A senior setter, Hoch ran the offense efficiently and handed out a match-high 30 assists. Hanna turned in a solid all-round effort with seven kills and four digs.
"Our depth was the ultimate difference tonight," Coach Snyder said.
"Abington is pretty much built around one player. We have five or six kids who can hurt you in a bunch of different ways."
Score by Games...
WW (6-0) 20 25 25 22 15 - 3
AH (5-1) 25 16 13 25 7 - 2