Tigers’ dream of state title spiked by CBC

By STEPHEN GLOVER

The dream of a state championship for the Oakville Senior High School boys’ volleyball team came to a heartbreaking end last week when the Tigers dropped a 27-25, 18-25, 31-33 decision to CBC in the state quarterfinal.

The Tigers (23-4-1, 7-1 Suburban West) were one of the top-ranked teams in the state and jumped out with a 27-25 win in the first match against the Cadets on May 17.

“We got off to a fairly decent start in the first game,” Oakville head coach Becky Czuppon told the Call. “But we didn’t come out for the second game nearly as mentally tough as we were in the first or third games.”

Oakville dropped the second game 25-18 and the third game 33-31. Oakville’s Ben Duckworth led the Tigers with 40 attacks and 15 kills. The senior outside hitter also recorded four blocks and one ace in the loss to CBC.

“Ben has been an outstanding leader all year long,” Czuppon said. “Being a senior, he takes up a lot of the court and has done a really good job for us.”

Oakville’s J.D. Gasparovic also was a threat as he racked up 26 attacks and 14 kills. The junior middle hitter also led Oakville with 10 blocks and two aces.

“In this game, J.D. was very aggressive in the middle,” Czuppon said. “He was virtually unstoppable all game.”

Senior setter Josh Haegele led Oakville with 42 assists, while also recording four attacks and two kills.

“With Josh being out the last few games, he lacked consistency at times,” Czuppon said. “But he delivered the ball well and was a good quarterback for our team and always has been.”

The Tigers will will lose seniors Tony Maniaci and Brandon Smith to graduation, which accounts for nearly half of this year’s roster. Maniaci was a Second Team All-Conference selection and recorded 16 attacks and four kills against CBC. The senior middle hitter also recorded an im-pressive eight blocked shots, which added to his 113 blocked shots this season.

“Tony may not be the most powerful player in the middle,” Czuppon said. “But he’s by far the most effective. He’s been a great varsity player for us.”

Smith saw action in 61 games this season as the team’s libero and led Oakville with 198 digs and 194 serves received.

“Brandon played a good role for us this year,” Czuppon said. “He really stepped in and made some big digs for us when needed them.”

Despite the fact that the Tigers graduate four of this season’s 10 players, Czuppon hopes the 2007 season will be just as successful.

“We try to have a good mix of returning players each year,” Czuppon said. “We’re currently in a setter’s slump and need to find someone to replace Josh Haegele. Hopefully, we can put it together next year.”