Cats Keep Killin’ it

Sam Bodnar

More stories from Sam Bodnar


Tim Baxter

Junior Christian Janke preps himself for a kill during the fourth set against Mt. Carmel.

A montage of energetic kills, powerful aces and perfectly placed passes, ends the varsity volleyball team’s four game losing skid. After four sets of dominant play, the Bobcats toppled Mt. Carmel last night, 3-1.

Aside from winning the third set to avoid a sweep, the Sundevils were outmatched and overpowered in the Bobcat Arena. The strenuous serving efforts from Sage Creek’s close win against Cathedral last week never surfaced; the Bobcats got their serving game in full gear.

“It makes us more consistent in making us a lot better on the defensive end. It gives momentum on offense, and [the team] just keeps going and going,” junior Christian Janke said of the team’s serving.

As one of the strongest servers on the squad, Janke’s aces and overall serving efforts were a major factor in the team’s win.

“Missing serves is a huge downer so if we keep getting them in, it helps us a lot,” Janke emphasized.

Janke’s serving is especially peculiar, because before each rocket that he launches, he rubs the bottom of both his feet and slams the ball with his hands.

“It all started on a court that was super slippery, so I wiped my feet every time I served [to avoid] slipping on a jump. Then, I started doing really well when I did it, so it just became my routine,” Janke explained.

No matter how unusual his routine may appear to be, Sage maintained a steady lead throughout the first set. With frequent blocks by senior Ryan Yates, as well as junior Christian Griego, the team was well positioned early on. Janke’s ace at the 20-14 mark began a 5-2 run that would give SC the victory in set one.


Sam Bodnar
Senior Ryan Yates prepares to send an ace during the third set of the victory against Mt. Carmel.

“Janke is amazing; he’s played a lot of club. We talk about eye work and what [he] should be looking at and I think he’s seeing the floor well,” Coach David Savage expressed.

In the second set, junior Ethan Shoemaker and Yates each had a pair of nice blocks to boost the team’s lead to 4-1 in the early stages of the set. Sophomore Jon Ulrich also added in back-to-back aces on the team’s 4-0 scoring run, which gave them a 12-8 lead. Ultimately though, it was Janke who took flight and dominated the rest of the set, collecting another ace for his collection as well as a few kills.

With the help from his libero, freshman Matt Oakley, and junior setter Griego,  Janke was positioned for a multitude of kills where he changed his mind in mid air and would either smash the volleyball or lightly tap it away from the Mt. Carmel blockers.

“I found the ability to look where the blockers are at and look where the set is at, and just make the decision from there,” Janke said.

His split-second timing, along with an ace by sophomore Garrett Edwards, catapulted SC to a 5-1 run that gave them the victory in set two by a score of 25-15.

Set number three was one to forget for the Bobcat home crowd. Janke missed his first two attempts at kills, and miscommunications between outside hitters and setters put the team down early by a score of 9-3. At one point, Sage Creek was trailing 15-8, however, multiple blocks from sophomore Braden Brasher and Janke trimmed the deficit to 15-12. Minutes later, the set was tied at 18 following an ace by Yates.

An admirable aspect from this third set was the noticeable team communication that began to rekindle itself as the set progressed- especially from Griego.

Tim Baxter
Junior Christian Griego sets the ball high into the air for his teammates to smash.

“I let the passers know which direction the serve is coming from because then they have to cross over,” Griego stated. “[He also does it to] make sure that the team passes the ball effectively.”

Griego’s effective setting and court awareness prepared Janke and Yates for multiple kills, but in the end SC could not come back and lost the set, 25-23.


The fourth and final set was back and forth throughout its entire duration. The Bobcats and Sundevils traded point for point and kill for kill in a match that seemed endless. Senior Spencer Stein was frequently called from the bench to serve throughout and landed an ace to tie the match at 12 before returning to the bench to watch the Sundevils go up another point.

Following a destructive Sundevil kill on a difficult angle approach, SC called a timeout where Coach Savage rallied the boys up.

“I really wanted them just to focus on positive things and not be caught up with petty items (a bad call or an error). We want a noble mindset [where we] really focus on what’s important in that moment: staying calm and letting the other team worry about the other bad stuff,” Savage expressed.

Following his timeout, the blockers prevented a Mt. Carmel kill and then Janke exploded for a kill of his own to put the team up 21-20. Up until the end, however, the teams kept tying scores and coaches continued to call timeouts to chat with their teams.

“In the timeouts, we were just saying that we’ve been in this position 1,000 times, and we just have to stay focused and play our game,” Griego expressed.

Tim Baxter
During a timeout, the varsity team huddles around to strategize for the rest of the fourth set.

By the end of the night though, it was Sage Creek who stole the fourth set by taking the final match by a score of 31-29.

In addition to the 3-1 win for Sage Creek, the true bright spot of the night came in the form of a statement from a Mt. Carmel coach to Coach Savage.

“We won’t see you guys at our place next year because Janke will still be here, but in two years… it’s on!”