Third time not a charm

Published 9:57 pm Monday, November 8, 2010

Nansemond-Suffolk senior Ray Ramirez sets during Saturday night’s Tidewater Conference Tournament final against Cape Henry. The Dolphins swept the Saints, 25-23, 25-20, 25-19. The Dolphins were the only team to defeat Nansemond-Suffolk (14-3) this season.

NORFOLK — Cape Henry was the only boys volleyball team to defeat Nansemond-Suffolk during the regular season.

In their final chance, in the final of the Tidewater Conference Tournament, the Saints couldn’t topple the defending conference champs. The Dolphins swept the Saints 25-23, 25-20, 25-19.

The Saints pushed the Dolphins to five sets both times during the season. In Saturday night’s final at Norfolk Collegiate, Cape Henry’s power above the net was too much for the Saints. The Dolphins racked up a 39-21 advantage in kills and a 6-1 margin in blocks. The Saints had chances to turn the tide in each set, but Cape Henry came up with important runs late in each game.

Email newsletter signup

The Saints ran off seven straight points on Tucker Hotte’s service, jumping out to an 11-4 lead in the first set and forcing a Dolphin timeout.

Cape Henry, largely behind the big leaping and hitting by first-team all-conference hitter Chris Campbell, answered quickly to take the lead at 15-14.

Neither side led by more than a point until the Dolphins gained a 21-19 lead. NSA fought off two set points, but Cape Henry closed the set on the third. Wes Edwards led NSA with four kills in the first set. Cape Henry held a 14-8 advantage in that category overall.

The lead traded hands in the early part of set two. A couple dump kills by NSA setter Ray Ramirez moved the Saints to a 10-9 lead. Cape Henry edged back in front and a 3-0 Dolphin spurt made it 19-15 Dolphins.

A block by C.J. White and an ace by Hotte brought NSA within 21-20. The Dolphins finished the set for four straight points for the 2-0 lead.

The Dolphins turned up more attacking power in the final set. A 5-0 NSA run made it 10-9 Dolphins. Cape Henry steadily pulled away from there.

Ramirez finished with 16 assists. White had eight kills and Edwards added seven kills.

Ramirez and Edwards were named to the all-tournament team. Ramirez was voted the conference’s Player of the Year last week. A five-year starter at setter for the Saints, Ramirez has accepted an offer to attend and play volleyball at Princeton, one of a very few NCAA Div. 1 men’s volleyball programs, next year.

After winning three matches a season ago, the Saints finish this season 14-3.

There is no private school state tournament for boys volleyball, as only a couple schools outside the Tidewater Conference have teams. To a large degree, Cape Henry’s conference title is a state title.