The Canisius boys and Saint Mary’s girls volleyball teams each extended their Monsignor Martin title runs in front of a combined crowd of 1,600 at Canisius High School on Friday.
Canisius won its 14th straight Monsignor Martin title in four games, a tight 25-15, 25-23, 18-25, 27-25 match, while the Lancers girls swept Immaculata in the girls title game for the second straight season.
The Canisius offense was led by sophomore hitter Trevor Gooch, who dominated on the left side and finished with 32 kills on the day.
“He’s been one of our best players all year,” Canisius coach Tom Weislo said. “Big games bring out the best in him.”
Gooch was a whopping .468 on kill attempts and gave a strong Joe’s defense fits with the help of setup man Brian Costello, who finished with 49 assists.
“We’ve played together three years,” Gooch said. “We’ve just had a connection ever since Day One.”
After cruising in the first game, Canisius (21-5, 7-1 MMAA) mounted a comeback to go up 2-0, ripping off five straight points to overcome a 23-20 Joe’s lead.
“We just didn’t finish that game,” St. Joe’s coach Mark Anzalone said. “In a match this close it can be one swing either way or a bounce one way or the other which can decide a close game.”
The Marauders (15-11, 6-4) rebounded to take the third game, 25-18, pulling away from a 10-10 tie to force a fourth game. Peter Laux had 18 kills for St. Joe’s, while Joe Koszelak added 42 assists.
Both teams electrified the packed Bernard J. Kennedy Fieldhouse with a fourth-game thriller. Canisius took its first lead at 13-12 but the teams were even at 25 when a Brendan Blake block put the Marauders at match point. Freshman Griffin Schmit’s serve hit the top of the net and fell in front of the Joe’s back line, giving Canisius the 27-25 win.
“It hit the tape or rolled over,” Anzalone said. “In a match this close, it can be a bounce one way or the other which can decide a close game.”
St. Mary’s (22-1) cruised to a 25-16, 25-10, 25-6 win over Immaculata on the strength of a spectacular performance from sophomore hitter Leigh Meyer. The Duke commit had 17 kills on Friday, good for a whopping .895 hitting percentage.
“That’s the highest I’ve ever hit,” said Meyer, who added five service aces. “I guess you could say I was feeling it.”
Immaculata (17-5) made an early push in the first game, jumping out to a brief 3-0 lead before Meyer and the Lancers – who hit .500 as a team and haven’t dropped a set in league play three years running – finally got the offense going.
“She’s just dominant,” St. Mary’s coach Don Pieczynski said. “The whole gym knows she’s getting the ball and, when push comes to shove, she’s just dominant.”
The victory ended on a bitter note for St. Mary’s, however, as sophomore Alyssa Zirnheld injured her left knee on the game’s final point.
Pieczynski doesn’t expect Zirnheld, who had 11 kills for the Lancers, will be ready to play when St. Mary’s goes for its third straight state title next Saturday in Fresh Meadow.