Western Wayne rebounded from its worst match of the season to seal the deal on a third place finish at the District Two tournament.
Last Tuesday evening, the Wildcats suffered a 3-0 shut out at the hands of Holy Redeemer thanks in large part to an eye-popping total of 42 unforced errors.
Following this match, Coach Tim Snyder tweaked his approach just a bit. The veteran skipper tossed aside his laid-back demeanor and ratcheted up the intensity level at practice.
His players responded.
Less than 48 hours after their first loss of the season, the 'Cats carved out an epic 3-2 victory over Wilkes Barre Coughlin in the Class AA consolation contest at Scranton High School.
This win brought with it bronze medals and a berth in the PIAA tournament.
"We played much better, much more consistent," said Coach Snyder. "We served better and passed better. We still had a couple of weak games, but overall I'm very pleased with the effort."
Western Wayne's overall record is now 15-1 on the season. The Wildcats will travel to Wilson High in Easton for their first round match-up with Manheim Central.
That contest is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. start on Wednesday evening.
Coughlin wound up in the consolation match on the heels of a 3-0 rout at the hands of North Pocono.
The Crusaders managed to generate just eight points in Game One against the Trojans, but turned up the heat on Thursday.
Nevertheless, Michael Trygar and Patrick Miller formed a deadly 1-2 combo at the net for Western Wayne.
Trygar rebounded from a sub-par effort against Holy Redeemer to terrorize the Crusaders. The senior dominated the front row on both offense and defense, hammering home match highs in both kills (17) and blocks (16).
Page 2 of 3 - "That was one of his best performances of the year," Coach Snyder said. "When Mike plays like that, he can carry us for long stretches of time."
Miller was nearly as impressive. A junior who sees the floor as well as anyone in the area, Patrick contributed nine kills and eight blocks to the cause.
"Pat's still just a junior, but in a lot of respects he's right there with Mike," said Coach Snyder. "He needs to work on his passing a little bit, but Pat is an excellent defender and he's very effective at the net."
With Trygar and Miller leading the charge, Western Wayne won the opening game by a score of 26-24.
The 'Cats dominated Game Two, pounding out a 25-14 victory and putting Couglin on the ropes.
However, the Crusaders weren't quite ready to throw in the towel. Coach Shayne McGrady's squad bounced back to claim the middle two games (25-23, 25-15) and force a winner-take-all fifth.
Sam Hoch shrugged off an erratic outing against Redeemer to get his team's offense back on track.
The hard-working junior setter earned high marks from his mentor by dishing out a match-best 32 assists.
"Once again, I'm very pleased with Sam's effort," Coach Snyder said. "He still struggles with inconsistency at times, but he really stepped up tonight. Sam has come a long way in a very short period of time."
John Hanna benefited from Hoch's sets, banging down four kills.
Western Wayne also stepped up its accuracy aon serve. Frank Juhasz recorded a pair of kills at the net, but also unleashed five aces at the line.
Chaz Zawislak chipped in with two aces of his own and also notched a team-high eight digs. Kevin Lopatofsky added six digs from his libero spot.
Page 3 of 3 - Thanks to this all-round team effort, the 'Cats rallied for a 15-13 win and a trip to the state tourney.
"Manheim Central is a very good team and we'll have our work cut out for us," Coach Snyder said.
"But, if we play the way I know we can, we'll be fine."
Score by Games...
WW (15-1) 26 25 23 15 15 - 3
WBC (13-3) 24 14 25 25 13 - 2