By: John Nee '93
St. Rita Volleyball Coach Brian Hagen ’04 knew he had the makings of a special team with the return of six starters from his 2015 team, and his instincts proved to be true as the Spiking Mustangs claimed their first Catholic League Championship since 2009 and the second in school history.
The team opened the Catholic League with a big win at Loyola (16-25, 30-28, 25-21) followed by wins against Mt. Carmel (25-14, 25-17), St. Francis (23-25, 25-22, 25-20), and St. Ignatius (25-19, 25-21). Then after a sluggish start against Augustinian rival Providence Catholic, the Mustangs dominated the final two sets to beat the Celtics (17-25, 25-15, 25-17) to move to 5-0 in the Catholic League Blue and clinch the title.
The Mustangs were led by senior setter Mike Long (629 assists, 33 blocks, 11 aces, St. John Fisher), senior right-side hitter Aidan Mitchell (174 kills, 48 blocks, 19 aces, St Germaine), junior middle blocker Brendan Murney (168 kills, 64 blocks, 17 aces, St. Alexander), junior outside hitters Liam Kelly (147 kills, 158 digs, St. Cajetan) and Sean Coghlan (125 kills, 120 digs, St. Cajetan), and senior middle blocker Tim Carroll (95 kills, 51 block, St. Christina). The Mustangs also received a key contribution from mid-season call-up sophomore Mike Mitchell (151 digs, 9 aces, St. John Fisher ).
The Mustangs (18-12) will now turn their attention to the state playoffs where they have earned the #5 seed in the St. Laurence Sectional. They will open state playoff action on Tuesday, May 24th at the Marian Catholic Regional.