Fourteen years since the start of the Houston Cup, host St. John's JV Boys' Volleyball finally takes first place, while Varsity finishes third.
Former Head Varsity Volleyball Coach Eric Lombardi started the Houston Cup Volleyball tournament in 2000 in order to maintain a competitive edge against a stronger varsity North Zone field. He kept in mind the pipeline of the St. John’s program by including a JV division in the draw. Retired from coaching since 2009, Lombardi, sporting a cowboy hat, was in the stands this weekend to see St. John’s capitalize on his pioneering efforts and win the 2013 JV division for the first time and take home 3rd in the varsity bracket.
“There had been a great tournament in San Antonio,” said Lombardi. “Six teams dropped the sport and we jumped in. One of my favorite aspects of the tourney is the separate venue for JV. Lots more play for the younger guys brought about by that change.”
The youthful Maverick JV squad of seven sophomores and five freshmen is led by the lone junior Brandon Alston '15.
“Alston is a great junior leader,” said Head JV Coach Chaz Hulett. “They are 100% on his back.”
The JV Mavericks went 6-0 in their three matches on Friday, but lost to the Kinkaid Falcons in the last pool play match on Saturday morning. Their performance was good enough to get to the Gold Bracket. St. John’s went back to work taking out Episcopal 2-1, and Casady 2-0 to face the Falcons in the final. After winning the first game 25-21, St. John’s lost the second 25-9. St. John’s won the third 15-8 for first place.
“The biggest thing is that the kids worked hard and showed resolve to beat a team which they lost to earlier,” said Hulett.
While St. John’s finished third behind St. Mark's and Casady in the varsity division, they took out a formidable opponent in SPC North power Greenhill.
“Our conditioning and balanced attack allowed us to stay fresh throughout the long 2 day tournament,” said Head Coach Mike McCrary. "Setter Andrew Chung ’14 set a great offense and also contributed with kills and strong blocking. Matt Kreutter ’14 and John Armstrong ’15 led the defense. William Trieschman ’14 and Paul Labanowski ’16 were strong presences offensively and in blocking."
“We all played cohesively,” said Billy Guo ’15. “I think our skills are as good as any varsity team in the SPC North or South.”
“Our pre-season was more challenging, and we are more experienced this year,” said Paul Labanowski ’16. “Our goal is to win SPC.”
Hats off to the Houston Cup JV champs and the man who started it all.