Patriots bump out Wildcats in county final


Photo by Joshua Singer

Senior captain and outside hitter Sebastiano (Seba) Sani goes for a spike on what would be the final point of the Wildcats’ season. The Wildcats were defeated in the Montgomery County Championship by the Wootton Patriots.

The boys’ volleyball team went 10-1 during the regular season and seemed poised to win the Montgomery County Championship this spring. The only team still standing in their path; the Wootton Patriots, a team they had beaten 3-2 in a very tough battle earlier this season. But on Tuesday, May 16, the Patriots were ready and played brilliantly during the second go around, besting the Wildcats in straight sets (25-22, 25-14, 25-22).

In the first two sets, the Wildcats were able to build an early lead going up 15-10 in the first set and 11-4 in the second set. The Patriots were able to claw their way back in the first set tying the set at 19 before pulling away. In the second set, the Patriots went on a 21-3 run including 13 straight points with junior Darek Yu making serve after serve for the Patriots.

“I think we were less nervous. It’s my fifth time playing in it as a coach and as a team, they played in it last year and we are always in big games. Every team plays us like it’s the Super Bowl because they know we have a good program, so the fans are different. It’s a hot gym, it’s a packed gym, but I thought we handled it well. We did not lose because we were nervous, we lost because Wootton outplayed us,” head coach Brian Fairall said.

The third set was back and forth, but like the first set, the Patriots pulled away from the 22-22 tie to win the final three points of the set and the match. This was deja vu for the Wildcats as it was the second consecutive year that they lost in the county championship in straight sets. After a seven game win streak including statement wins in the first three playoff rounds, the Wildcats had no answers for the Patriots, who seemed to return nearly every shot and spike the Wildcats took. The Patriots ended their season winning their last eight games and winning at least two sets in every game they played this season.

The Wildcats are losing seven seniors as the season comes to a close, including future Long Beach State and Belmont University players Sebastiano (Seba) Sani and Joseph (Joe) Morris.

“All the guys are just super good, super amazing. I made some really good friends and I love playing with them,” Sani, who is a captain and outside hitter, said.

As the school year comes to a close, many seniors are reminiscing about their high school athletic careers.

“It’s been an honor. I’ve known these guys for all four years of high school and I know how talented they are. It’s just been so much fun learning from them and being part of the team …
Volleyball was a good way to connect with other people. There’s a huge community. I met a lot of new people, some friends I’ll cherish for life and it just meant so much to me, not just the sport,” senior middle hitter Guy Saltsman said.