COBLESKILL–The Ichabod Crane boys volleyball team traveled to Cobleskill-Richmondville High School last Saturday to do battle with the Section III champions, Oneida. For the third consecutive season the Section II champion Riders captured the Regional crown with a 3-0 victory. Boys volleyball throughout the state is played either in the fall or winter, meaning no true state champion is crowned, thus a regional title is as far as a team can advance.
Coming into the game the 20-1 Riders were a team built mainly around senior Alex Potts, while the Indians from Oneida featured an overall taller and more balanced squad. But once the championship got underway it was clear the Riders would not be denied.
After falling behind 2-0 rather quickly ICC rebounded, as Derrick Fenoff served up five points. Oneida fought back to tie it at 10 and Ethan Lincoln scored three points at the service line to put the Riders back in front. Again Oneida fought back, tying the score at 19 apiece, and again it was Lincoln who pushed the Riders back in front as he served up another three points. The Indians pulled to within one point, but Fenoff and Potts each used big hits off the Oneida blocks to give the Riders the first match win, 25-23.
In the second match the Riders got Potts going, setting in the front row and the back, but Oneida was again able to keep things close. A combination of Will Baumbach and Shane Wenz peppered serving runs throughout the second game and Potts was able to close it out late, first with a side out to give Riders game points and then with a huge kill off a Wenz serve to seal the 25-21 victory.
By the third match Oneida looked defeated and the Riders pounced. Fenoff and Wenz each served up two service points, as the Riders jumped out to a 6-1 lead; an Oneida red card gave ICC another point and Wenz followed that up with five more points, Potts earning kills on four of them, as ICC raced ahead 12-1. Oneida battled back some, but never pulled closer than eight points. Up 24-17, the Riders returned an Oneida service and set up Fenoff, who crushed a kill down the line for the 25-17 win.
Having returned just two players, Potts and Fenoff, who saw significant playing time last year, the Riders seemed an unlikely choice to capture the Patroon Conference, section and region titles, but the additions of senior setter Tyler Jablanski and senior hitter Justyn Verbraska helped bring a winning edge to the young team. The Riders also saw significant contributions from Lincoln in the back row and Ian Slocum in the front, both seniors, and from junior Baumbach as a libero and freshman Shane Wenz, who was playing all around the court by the end of the season.
The Riders are slated to lose Potts, Jablanski, Verbraska, Lincoln and Slocum to graduation after going 21-1 this season. Juniors Fenoff and Baumbach are expected to return along with sophomore’s Kyle Patzwahl and Jake Maab and freshman Wenz. Sophomores Alex Shields and Jeff Winkalerk were both sectional call ups, while Baumbach was also called up and saw serving duty in both the sectional and regional finals.