By CONNOR WOOD
COXSACKIE – The Catskill Cats traveled to Coxsackie-Athens to take on the Indians in an intense Patroon Conference boys volleyball match Tuesday, Nov. 27, which Coxsackie won 3-2.
Both teams have a new look this season. The Cats lost a lot of their starters last year, and the Indians are under new head coach Jacob Colwell, who coached previously at Maple Hill and took his team to four Sectional championships, winning two of them.
The match was played at a high pace right from the first serve. Both teams fought back and forth, neither side willing to give up a point. The game was also very physical. In the first set alone, there were seven spikes for points and three diving saves. Coxsackie controlled the net, not giving an inch to the Cats’ front line. However, Catskill was able to take the first set 25-22, with the winning point being an ace.
The second set was full of excitement, as the teams kept the pace played in the first set. Both teams volleyed back and forth for multiple points. Coxsackie won the second set 25-22 to tie the match at 1-1.
By the third set, the fans really started getting into it. They knew this was a close, intense match, and each side of the gym was yelling loudly for their respective teams. The excitement of the fans made the players step up their intensity. Neither team wanted to give a point to either side, and it showed in their efforts in attempting to save the ball. Coxsackie-Athens’ Austin Schlenker ran into the bleachers to save a ball and wound up winning the point for the Indians. It also brought enough momentum to the Indians for them to finish out the set, winning again by a score of 25-22.
Catskill took control of the fourth set from the beginning and built a 21-10 lead. That’s when the Indians came roaring back. They went on a streak of eight straight points making the score 21-18. The gym was so loud by this point, the players fed into the intensity. Catskill was able to put the set away, winning the next four points of the set to take it 25-18.
The fifth, winner-take-all set was played to 15 points. Coxsackie exploded out of the gate taking an early 8-2 lead. Coming out of a Catskill timeout, the teams went on a very long volley, that was won by Catskill, bringing momentum back its way. However, the momentum of the volley was not enough to put the Indians away, as they were able to beat the Cats in the fifth set by a score of 15-8 to gain their first win of the season.
“The players kept their heads on straight,” said Colwell. “They supported each other, We stayed positive, kept out head in the game and came out with a dub [win].”
“The intensity in the gym was something we’ve never had before,” said senior Anthony Bird. “Players came ready to play and we were able to pull it out in the fifth set.” Schlenker added, “The team had great intensity because of Coach Colwell.”
Catskill coach Rocco Cornacchia said, “We lost a lot of starters last year, and we are hoping to improve on this performance throughout the season.”
Connor Wood is a senior at Coxsackie-Athens High School and an intern at Capital Region HS Sports.