Thursday October 24, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
BIG SPIKE — Hamburg’s Zach Yerrington lays down a spike as he continued to lead Hamburg over Lake Shore on Monday. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
It has been a notable two weeks for the Hamburg boys volleyball team, and head coach Brian Carroll said he thinks he can pinpoint the turning point leading to it.
It was in pool play, during the first of what would become two tournament titles in as many weekends, in a match against Clarence. Carroll’s team trailed 23 – 18 and suddenly, Carroll said the light bulb went on and has stayed on since.
Hamburg went on to win that game 27 – 25 and clawed its way through to a title at the Orchard Park Tournament on Oct. 12, a night after defeating that same Clarence team in an Erie County Interscholastic Conference I divisional match.
Since then, the Bulldogs have handed West Seneca West its first loss of the division season, to move into a first-place tie at 10 – 1, and captured the Hamburg Tournament as the hosts, on Oct. 19. They won a third and deciding set 15 – 13, to defeat Western New York’s top-ranked Canisius, in the tournament final.
“We’re really getting there. We’re hitting the right speed at the right time,” said Carroll, whose team begins postseason play next week in Class B. “We’ve really turned the corner and now we’re in a good place.”
Sophomore setter Ryan Dils helped lead Hamburg to its latest hot streak. Carroll said he and Dils’ teammates call the athlete “Junior,” because Dils is playing at least a class ahead of his actual grade.
“He’s really grown up,” Carroll said. “We’ve been waiting for him to get to the level we knew he could play at.”
Dils is getting to set to a strong group of middles and outsides, led by Patrick Stroh and Doug Horbechawski, each of whom were given all-tournament honors at Hamburg. Returners from last season Zach Yerrington and Trevor Vail were also forces, during the Hamburg Tournament.
Carroll said another one of those turning points for his team was in beating West, which had been dominant in division play, throughout the season. Hamburg swept the Indians in three games.
During the Hamburg Tournament, after splitting two sets with Canisius in pool play, the Bulldogs took a long game one 31 – 29 and were on the cusp of a sweep with a 23 – 20 lead in the next game, but Canisius scored 5 unanswered, to force a third game. Hamburg got out to a 4-point lead and held on in game three. The Bulldogs had swept two games from Frontier, during the semifinal.
“When it was all said and done, 2 points separated Canisius and us over about 125 points,” Carroll noted. “That’s really rare that it’s that close.”
During the Orchard Park Tournament, Hamburg had a three-game match in the semifinals with what Carroll called an improving Saint Francis team, before defeating Clarence in three games. Yerrington was most valuable player, while Stroh and Vail made the all-tournament team. Eden finished as a quarterfinalist, dropping a 31 – 29 game to St. Francis.