Falcons Joey Michelau defends a serve during his team’s WIAA sectional boys volleyball final against Franklin on Nov. 3. The Westosha Central senior accounted for 33 kills in two playoff matches last week (Earlene Frederick/The Report).

Falcons drop sectional final to Franklin

By Jason Arndt

Although the Westosha Central High School boys volleyball team fell one game short of reaching the WIAA state championship series, Falcons coach Drew Cox could not be more proud of his team, considering what they accomplished in his first season.

The fourth-seeded Falcons, who upset top-seeded Muskego in the Oct. 30 sectional semifinal on the road, could not maintain their momentum against No. 2 Franklin in the Nov. 1 sectional final.

Playing before a home crowd on Nov. 1, the Falcons had the lead in the first and third sets, but the Sabers were able to ward off Westosha Central (17-15) to come away with a three-game sweep, 25-22, 25-18, 25-19.

“We just stuck to our game plan and stayed aggressive,” said Franklin coach Chris Dibb, whose team stamped a ticket to the state tournament at Wisconsin Lutheran College boasting a 19-15 record.

Dibb, however, acknowledged the Falcons front row presented a challenge for the Sabers.

In the first two sets, Franklin struggled with freshman middle hitters Jack Rose and Bradley Bell, who combined for six blocks.

“Somehow we started creating holes in games two and three,” Dibb said.

Despite finding open holes, senior outside hitter Joey Michelau did not make it any easier for Franklin, accounting for a team-leading 14 kills along with 12 digs and four blocks.

Michelau, according to Dibb, produced an amazing performance.

Cox, meanwhile, said Michelau stepped up.

“In the last couple of games, Joey has been excellent, he has really risen up,” Cox said. “I think it started with our middles, drawing in attraction, and it opened things up for Joey.”

Michelau, coming off a 19-kill performance at Muskego, said it was imperative to find a way to continue the season.

“I just wanted to keep the season going for as long as I could,” he said. “I love this team.”

Along with Michelau and freshmen middle hitters Bell and Rose, the Falcons also received contributions from seniors Alex Salerno (nine digs, five kills, block, service) and Luke Nosek (two kills); juniors Tyler Horton (22 assists, two blocks, two kills, three digs) and Zach Meyers (20 digs).

Dan Tompkins, a freshman, pitched in seven digs.

Cox believes the Falcons, who had a 20-16 first set lead, started getting tired in the next two sets.

“We were putting up some solid blocks, but after that, we kind of fell apart,” he said.

Resilient team
At the start of the season, the Falcons were trying to find an identity, considering they lost setter Connor Muff and libero Jack Polick to graduation.

Coupled with the losses of two key seniors, the Falcons welcomed four freshmen, with all four filling in admirably.

“I am proud of all of these kids, each and every day, they came into practice and games focused,” Cox said. “They picked it up when we needed to, especially at the end of the season.”

“We were one win away from state.”

Central stuns top-seeded Muskego
After defeating Greendale to open WIAA tournament play, the Westosha Central High School boys volleyball team had a daunting task on Tuesday, when the Falcons visited top-seeded Muskego in the sectional semifinal match.

If playing on the road against No. 1 Muskego was challenging enough, after the Falcons dropped the first two sets, they were pushed to the wall.

Westosha Central, however, bounced back by capturing the next three sets and advanced to its first sectional final since 2015.

According to Cox, the Falcons passion helped them prevail in the thrilling five set victory, which came on decisions of 11-25, 25-27, 25-21, 25-23, 15-13.

“It was a collective team effort,” he wrote in an email to area media following the game.

“They all played with passion and heart; they fought for everything!”

The senior duo of Michelau and Salerno, in his first game back from injury, led the Falcons offensive attack.

While Salerno chipped in 14 kills, Michelau produced a game-high 19 kills, adding four blocks, four digs and three aces.

Adding reinforcements along the front row were Rose, who pitched in six blocks and five blocks, and Bell (five blocks).

Nosek added another three kills along with a block.

Horton registered 42 assists, seven digs and a block.

Defensively, Meyers recorded 14 digs and Tompkins contributed another seven and accumulated four service aces.

“I am so proud of these boys and the strides they have made from the beginning to now during our season,” Cox states.

Westosha Central, which has made three state appearances, last qualified for the championship series in 2013.


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