For the second year in a row, the Champlain Valley Union and Essex High School boys volleyball met with a title on the line. For the first time, one of the teams walked away a varsity state champion.
The top-seeded Redhawks edged Essex in four sets – 17-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-23 – to win the first Vermont Principals’ Association boys volleyball state title on Saturday at St. Michael’s College.
“I broke down crying at [the] end there,” said CVU captain Kevin Devine. “We have been fighting for three years for this…we came back and we brought it.”
Things started slowly for the Redhawks, who saw number two Essex go on a 9-1 run at the end of the first set to take an early lead. But CVU regrouped in between sets and used a late run of its own, outscoring the Hornets 8-2, to clinch the win in the second set.
“We had some first-game jitters, a little bit of miscommunication,” Devine said. “We brought it together, family first, and came back and beat them.”
The Redhawks roared ahead in the third set, jumping out to a two-point lead at 7-5 and keeping the gap at three points or more for the rest of the set to enter the fourth game with the 2-1 lead.
“We have been practicing on diving to get the ball, getting it up no matter what,” Devine said. “We got our serves in, very consistent, that brought it together.”
But the Hornets held steady in the fourth, desperation fueling their playing as they tried to send it to a deciding fifth set. But the CVU hitters kept finding holes in the Essex backcourt to score points and emerged with the tight win in the final game to clinch the match.
“It feels amazing,” said CVU coach Jeff Boliba. “The first official varsity one, we take it. I couldn’t be more excited and I couldn’t be more proud of the boys. They played amazing.”
Champlain Valley sent five seniors off with a state championship, with Devine, Kyle Gorman, Elias Sturim, Jeffrey Boliba and Spencer Snipes all wrapping up their volleyball careers on top.
“Amazing, it feels amazing,” Devine said of finishing with the state’s first VPA state title.
The Redhawks finished the season at 11-1, while the Hornets wrapped up the year at 10-3. All three of the Essex’s losses came to Champlain Valley Union.
Contact Lauren Read at firstname.lastname@example.org.