By JOSH KAUFMANN
The Redhawk boys dropped their first set of the season but dominated from the service line and at the net the rest of the afternoon, remaining Vermont’s only boys volleyball state champion with their third straight title in a 3-1 victory over Lyndon Institute on Saturday at St. Michael’s College.
The Vikings (12-3) won the first set in the best-of-five finals to open the second half of the Vermont Principals Association’s third annual state tournament doubleheader at the Ross Sports Center. It was the first set surrendered by Champlain Valley Union since the 2017 state final against Essex, a 3-2 CVU win, as the Hawks won all 12 regular-season contest by 3-0 sweeps.
“Hats off to those guys,” coach Jeff Boliba said of the Vikings. “They brought it. And I think we were a little tentative at first, then we got it going. Lyndon came a long way this year. They should be very proud. But I’m proud of our guys. We stuck to our game plan. We built momentum as the game went on. I’m very excited. Very proud.”
CVU evened up Saturday’s final with a 25-21 win in the second set, but Lyndon — the first boys finalist other than the Redhawks and Essex Hornets —stayed with the Hawks deep into the third at 17-17 before falling victim to the No. 1 seed’s aggressive serves, as the two-time defending champs took a 2-1 lead.
The decisive fourth set also started as a battle. CVU led 8-6 when one of its three junior captains, Jacob Boliba, started to serve. Five straight points later, the 2-point lead had grown to 13-6. The gap was still at eight when co-captain Baker Angstman took on service, but two aces and a third point later, it was 22-11.
Moments later an attempted Viking block caromed out of play, and CVU had its third straight state championship.
Jeff Boliba said the Redhawks’ array of weapons and aggressiveness put the Vikings on the defensive.
“We are so deep. We have 15 boys who are all really good. If you’re looking at our offense, we’re jump serving, we’re constantly putting pressure on. It’s a very complicated, advanced offense. We miss a jump serve here and there, but high risk, high reward. It puts so much pressure on. I told these guys we’re going to make mistakes but I want us to play the way we’ve always practiced and the way we play. They started to loosen up, and they started to get more confidence.
“You saw that with Jacob serving. He just got going, and he served, I want to say, five in a row. They called a timeout, and something we work on too is when other teams call timeout not getting iced. And he came right back serving the same way. The boys did great.”