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Hoban tops Purcell Marian, advances to third straight title match
July 20, 2010
By Jim Jicha
Archbishop Hoban overcame a slow start to defeat Cincinnati Purcell-Marian 25-18, 25-19, 25-12 and advance to their third consecutive state final.
The Cavaliers, who beat out Roger Bacon and Archbishop McNicholas for the Greater Cincinnati League Central title, and nipped McNicholas 25-21, 26-24, 16-25, 26-24 in the regional final, ended their season 20-7.
Purcell-Marian charged into a 9-4 game one lead and stayed with Hoban for a time in each of the next two sets, but they were stymied in all three by big runs from the Knights.
Junior middle blocker Brad Johnston started the scoring for Purcell, which led 2-0 after a Hoban double hit. The Knights got on the board with a block by First Team All-State setter Willy Veverka, but Cavalier setter Connor Beerck answered with a tip, and another tip by 6’5” junior outside Sam Holt, Co-Player of the Year for the South Region, gave Purcell a 5-2 lead. The Cavaliers surged ahead 8-3 as Holt blasted a spike off the block and served two aces. Senior outside Sam Anderson countered another block by Veverka to make it 9-4.
But after another Hoban block, this one by Honorable Mention All-State junior middle Mikey Sokol, the Cavaliers obliged with three errors, and senior outside R.C. Kunig contributed a surprise dump to tie the game. One Purcell point later the Knights erupted for five more, culminating with a double block by Kunig and Second Team All-State senior middle Adam Weaver.
Beerck broke that skein with a block, but Weaver terminated a Veverka short set and another miscue put Hoban up 16-11. And when the Cavaliers narrowed the gap to 19-16, helped by two kills from Holt, Kunig delivered two more terminations to spark a four-point run.
The Cavaliers scored two more as 6’4” sophomore middle Andy McClain tipped and junior middle Brad Johnston hammered a quick set from Beerck, but Sokol took Hoban to the verge with a kill in between, and when a Purcell serve sailed out the game was over.
Purcell jumped out 2-0 in game two, on a blast by Holt that was blocked out and an ace from Johnston, and they led 3-2 after Beerck crunched an overpass. Veverka, however, retied with a dump and followed with a block kill. Senior outside Eric Antonucci made it 5-3, propelling a low set into a hole. The Knights spurted further in front 9-5 on a kill by junior outside Tyler Gerwig and an ace from Antonucci.
Scoring went back and forth to 12-9 at which point Holt got hot, hitting an empty right corner, teaming with McClain on a block in the middle and hitting into a hole in mid-court to knot the score. Hoban scored twice, and the Cavaliers retied at 14. After two more Hoban points, McClain ended a long volley with a quick hit to right front. But that was the end for Purcell.
Hoban junior defensive specialist Spencer Dzurovcin scored with a kill from back court after making a great dig, and the Knights galloped away 24-17 behind Kunig and Weaver. The Cavaliers would score two more before Weaver ended it with a blast that was dug across the net and into the ceiling.
Purcell Marian made it three for three in lead-off scores with a hammer off the block by junior outside John Bunker. But the Knights scored the next two, and broke from a 3-3 deadlock with a 5-1 run.
The Cavaliers sallied back and trailed 9-8 after kills by senior opposite Alan Bergman and Beerck. But after they double hit trying to field a liner down the right by Kunig, the roof caved in. Hoban added four more points, and following an exchange of serving errors, Kunig served the Knights to a 22-9 margin while Weaver and Veverka teamed up on four block kills.
From there it was a matter of time and when the Cavaliers hit long after difficulty fielding a cross-court slam by Kunig, the match was over.
1) Hoban called no timeouts during the match, not even during their shaky game one start. Coach Matt Mihelic said this was because of the confidence he and his coaches have in the team. “We just talked about settling in and playing the game as we know how to play. We know we can play better than we were playing, and pass better than we were passing. It was just the boys settling in…we were down 7-3, tied at 9-9 and went from there”.
2) Purcell Marian outside hitter Sam Holt’s older brother Max, a former all-State Player of the Year, and an AVCA All-American two years ago at Penn State, currently plays in Italy and for the USA National Team.
3) Hoban Stats: Aces: Antonucci, Sokol, Weaver – 1; Assists: Veverka – 26; Kills: Weaver - 26, Kunig - 6, Veverka, Sokol – 3; Blocks: Veverka - 5, Weaver - 3