There was growth, improvement and a lot of winning.
Cathedral High School boys volleyball on that front progressed successfully in Tyler McClure’s second season as head coach.
The results? A 22-12 overall record, a Top 5 state ranking and yet another appearance in the Indiana Boys Volleyball Coaches Association State final four for a program that in 2022 continued its longstanding status as one of the top high school boys volleyball teams in Indiana.
“We were young and inexperienced across the board, but we definitely got a lot better,” McClure said.
The Irish, after a 3-5 start, peaked at season’s end. They won 11 of their last 14 matches – sweeping Brebeuf Jesuit in the first round of the state tournament before losing 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-13) to eventual state champion Roncalli in a state semifinal.
The Irish continued their longstanding tradition of playing one of the state’s toughest schedules, gaining match toughness and improving against top teams as the season continued
“We were really not that close to winning at the start against all those top teams,” McClure said. “By the end of the year, we were beating them or competing with them. We were point for point with Roncalli for two and a half sets in the semifinal. We definitely got a lot better as the season went on.
“Film from March is kind of hard to watch compared to where we were at the end. Even our seniors were learning as they were leading. There was a learning curve. The guys kept working at and eventually got around it.”
Irish boys volleyball in ’22 was a strong mix of veterans and underclassmen, developing into a team with solid offense and strong defense. The season was in a sense one of transition, with many experienced seniors playing different roles from last season.
“We were able to serve tough,” McClure said. “That put us ahead and we became scrappy on defense. Our blocking really improved to where some teams couldn’t get the ball over the net against us. They kept competing with each other in practice and they developed accountability.
“They pushed each other to be better. They knew they had room for growth and couldn’t afford to take a day off if we were going to get to where we wanted to be. It’s what you want out of the year, to get better.”
Irish seniors in ’22:
*Andrew Miller, a team captain who played libero and moved outside, becoming what McClure said was the Irish’s best all-around player. “He became a smart hitter up front,” McClure said. He was third on the team with 135 kills and second with 250 digs.
*Ty Walsh, a Wabash commitment who moved from a key reserve role in ’21 to a middle one role as a senior. “We expected a lot from him offensively and blocking,” McClure said. “He controlled the front net at times.” He was second on the team with 249 kills and led the team with 57 blocks.
*Will Langfeldt, who moved from right side in a 6-2 as a junior to defensive specialist. “He was a dynamite passer,” McClure said. “Our serve receive improved tremendously throughout the year and he was a big reason."
*Eli Lyons, and outside hitter who McClure said “improved as much as anybody on the team from March to May.”
*Bart Joniskan, “a steady, quiet leader,” McClure said. " He loves volleyball and always a great attitude that rubbed off on the other guys."
*Parker Spellacy, a first-year volleyball player who will play football at Cornell. “It’s hard to imagine our team without his energy and enthusiasm,” McClure said. “He was the emotional heartbeat for us.”
McClure called the senior class “a solid group of guys.”
“They did a lot of different things,” McClure said. “They became all-around good players. With us being so young, they helped bring along the younger guys. There were a lot of well-rounded volleyball players.”
Also key were underclassmen including:
*Junior Gavin Weed, who switched to outside in ’22 after two seasons as a middle. He led the Irish with 361 kills and was voted to Indiana All-Star and All-Tournament teams.
*Freshman Nick Whitley, who played setter and improved dramatically as the season continued. “It’s a hard job to be a setter,” McClure said. “It’s even harder for a freshman. He handled the pressure well and developed by the end of the year to where he had a game plan and could run different plays. He really got going and became a smart player.
*Freshman Ryan Peterson, a middle who had the team’s highest hitting percentage and finished the season with 180 kills.
*Junior Brandon Moyers, a libero. “His defense picked up this year and his ability to get a hand on every ball that came his way,” McClure said.
The result was a team that not only returned to state prominence but one with the ability to maintain hat status moving forward.
“There are some challenges when you’re so young, but the long-term outlook is pretty good with all these guys who will be around for two or three or four years,” McClure said. “It’s definitely a bright future ahead. We’re in a good spot.
“We had a strong JV team and a strong JV2 team that improved tremendously. The depth of the program definitely gets you exicted for the future."