Sweep puts Saints in final

Published 9:42 pm Friday, November 5, 2010

Nansemond-Suffolk senior Wes Edwards hits a spike versus Norfolk Collegiate in NSA’s three-set win in the semifinals of the Tidewater Conference Tournament in Norfolk Thursday. Edwards put down 10 kills for the Saints (14-2).

NORFOLK — Nansemond-Suffolk’s boys volleyball team was the better seed in Thursday night’s Tidewater Conference Tournament semifinal match, but the Saints still had to face No. 3-seed Norfolk Collegiate on its home floor.

No. 2 NSA (14-2) dismissed the Oaks without a hitch, sweeping three sets 25-17, 25-16, 25-19, to bring up the chance to complete the team’s goal since day one of preseason practice.

“From the beginning of the season, we said our goal is the TCIS championship,” said senior, five-year varsity player and newly-named TCIS Player of the Year Ray Ramirez.

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“We want a banner for boys volleyball,” said senior C.J. White.

The Saints won three matches last season. This season, the only team to beat the Saints is Cape Henry, with both Dolphin wins coming in five-set matches. No. 1 Cape Henry and NSA meet in the conference final Saturday at 7 p.m. at Norfolk Collegiate.

The Saints and Oaks struggled with unforced errors early on, but NSA still built an 11-6 lead in the opening set.

When Ramirez, NSA’s setter, started connecting with Wes Edwards and Harrison Spalding for kills, the Saints stretched their lead and rolled to an easy win.

The Oaks played the Saints close early in set two. NSA moved to a 12-9 lead on a point with great digs by libero Zach Crytzer and Ramirez. The energy from those plays put momentum in the Saints’ favor, and NSA pulled away through the rest of the set.

“The point we won with the two digs, it helped turned the tide,” Ramirez said.

Both sides had big hitters, maybe even more so by Norfolk Collegiate. NSA’s ability to keep points alive and win points with more than powerful spikes proved more consistent.

The third set was close again until NSA pulled away through the middle part. From an 8-6 Oak lead, NSA rallied to a 19-13 lead.

Edwards, NSA’s senior co-captain along with Ramirez, led the Saints with 10 kills. White scored nine kills. Tucker Hotte and Bobby Wentz added six kills each. Ramirez finished with 29 assists.

Edwards and Ramirez were named First Team All-Tidewater Conference earlier in the week. Crytzer, Spalding, White and Wentz also made All-TCIS teams. All six are seniors.

NSA head coach Michele Bossick is the TCIS Coach of the Year.

Even with the Saint victories and individual honors, it’s not the best recent news for Ramirez, who has signed to attend and play volleyball for Princeton.

The number of NCAA Division I men’s volleyball programs is miniscule compared to women’s volleyball. Off the top of his head, Ramirez named Harvard, George Mason and Ball State as the only other programs in the eastern part of the country.

Ramirez visited Princeton three weeks ago and accepted the offer to play for the Tigers.