The WIAA postseason is right around the corner and the last thing Middleton boys volleyball coach Ben White wanted to see Saturday was a lackluster effort by the sixth-ranked Cardinals.
Middleton didn’t fool around, putting together a dominating performance at the Big Eight Conference boys volleyball tournament at Madison East.
The Cardinals swept all six league opponents in the best-of-three sets, round-robin format and earned first place with a 6-0 record.
“We didn’t want to go through the motions,” said White, whose team also was the Big Eight regular-season dual champion. “I felt we played solid volleyball for 12 straight sets.”
The top-seeded Cardinals faced second-seeded Madison Memorial in the teams’ final match of the day and it wound up as a meeting between the day’s top two teams.
Middleton claimed a 25-10, 25-18 victory over Madison Memorial, which finished second in the tournament with a 4-2 record.
“We played pretty well today,” said Spartans coach Steve Collins, whose team is led by brothers Gage and Jack Krumbach, and Josh Barth. “(The Cardinals) are really good. They are, obviously, one of the top programs in the state.”
White said the Spartans presented a challenge because of their athleticism.
“Memorial has got great athletes,” White said. “(Collins) gets good athletes. He’s done a really good job turning it around there.”
Middleton senior middle hitter Brian Vergenz had nine kills and one block kill against the Spartans, while senior libero Thomas Robson totaled 11 digs and one service ace and setter Andrew Lepage had 19 assists for the Cardinals (30-6 overall).
“I think we all performed really well today as a team,” Vergenz said. “Everyone did their job. We were at our prime and everyone executed.”
Middleton has earned a top seed in its WIAA sectional. The Cardinals have advanced to the boys volleyball state tournament nine times, including for the past four years.
“We know we will have to put it all together,” White said.
Said Vergenz: “Coming into the playoffs, we want to be in our prime and, hopefully, we get another appearance at state.”
White said Saturday’s tournament was important to working toward that goal.
“I think we did play really well,” White said. “One thing today was being aggressive serving. It was a good day to be aggressive behind the service line. Thomas Robson had a lot of aces, as did Brian Vergenz.”
White believes how well the Cardinals serve and pass will be critical in postseason. On Oct. 31 in sectional action, Middleton will meet the winner of the Oct. 27 match between fourth-seeded Madison Memorial and fifth-seeded Waukesha South.
Middleton recently wrapped up its sixth consecutive Big Eight Conference regular-season championship and 11th in the past 12 years.
Madison West and Fort Atkinson/Cambridge finished 3-3 in the seven-team tournament Saturday, with Madison West earning third place due to a 2-1 victory over Fort Atkinson/Cambridge.
BIG EIGHT CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
At Madison East
Final standings — Middleton 6-0; Madison Memorial 4-2; Madison West 3-3; Fort Atkinson/Cambridge 3-3; Madison East 2-4; Madison La Follette 2-4; Beloit Memorial 1-5.
Round 1 — Madison East beat Madison La Follette, 2-1; Madison Memorial def. Fort Atkinson/Cambridge, 2-0; Middleton def. Beloit Memorial, 2-0.
Round 2 — Madison Memorial def. Madison East, 2-0; Madison West def. Beloit Memorial 2-1; Middleton def. Madison La Follette, 2-0.
Round 3 — Middleton def. Madison West, 2-0; Madison East def. Beloit Memorial, 2-0; Fort Atkinson/Cambridge def. Madison La Follette, 2-0.
Round 4 — Fort Atkinson/Cambridge def. Beloit Memorial, 2-1; Madison Memorial def. Madison La Follette, 2-0; Madison West def. Madison East, 2-1.
Round 5 — Madison West def. Fort Atkinson/Cambridge, 2-1; Middleton def. Madison East, 2-0; Beloit Memorial def. Madison Memorial, 2-1.
Round 6 — Madison La Follette def. Beloit Memorial, 2-1; Middleton def. Fort Atkinson/Cambridge, 2-0; Madison Memorial def. Madison West, 2-1.
Round 7 — Middleton def. Madison Memorial, 2-0; Madison La Follette def. Madison West, 2-1; Fort Atkinson/Cambridge def. Madison East, 2-0.