Catholic Memorial’s boys volleyball team defeated Arrowhead, 3-0, on Saturday, Nov. 5, to win its first state title since 2016. (Submitted photo)
At various points in the season, Catholic Memorial boys volleyball coach Danny Brozynski would ask his team a simple question: Was the job finished yet?
Each time, his players responded with a resounding “No.”
On Saturday, Nov. 5, after Ben Goedheer and Greg Bodus combined on a block for the final point of a 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-17) victory over conference rival Arrowhead in the championship match of the WIAA State Tournament, Brozynski heard a different response.
“It was such a surreal feeling asking them that question after the championship game and them go crazy and finally say, ‘Yes,’” said Brozynski, who was in his first year as head coach of the Crusaders after being a CMH assistant the previous two years. “They’re a great group of volleyball players and an even better group of men. I’ve been super proud of them all year.”
The championship was Catholic Memorial’s first since 2016 and fourth overall.
In 2021, the Crusaders lost in the first round (quarterfinals) of the state tournament to Arrowhead. Going into this season, CMH was returning all but one starter and served notice early in the campaign that they were hunting for the big gold ball.
In the beginning of the season, Catholic Memorial swept defending state champion Marquette, who was ranked No. 1 in the state most of the season and whose only three losses in Wisconsin were to the Crusaders, on their own floor.
By the time the state semifinals rolled around, when CMH upended the Hilltoppers 3-2 (25-21, 25-27, 25-21, 21-25, 15-11), it was the teams’ sixth matchup with each side winning three each.
“They’re that team every year that you expect to be really talented, and they had a really talented team this year, as well,” Brozynski said. “Going into the year, we knew that was one of the teams that was going to be there at the end. Being able to play them so many times was great for competitiveness but me and Jake Cosson, their coach, talked every time after the matches and we both felt like neither team played up to their full potential every time we played them. It was kind of hard to pull things from each match.”
Brozynski said both coaches agreed the state matchup was the first time the two teams had played to their capabilities against each other all year.
The CMH coach noted how scrappy Marquette was defensively, so the Crusaders had to serve aggressively to disrupt their offense. It worked, as CMH forced 23 attacking errors in the match.
State player of the year Vinny Coello, a junior, led the Crusaders with 29 kills and nine digs in the five-set match, while Jack Basarich added 12 kills and nine digs, and Roman Rothermel had 11 kills and four block assists. Ryan Brown added 35 assists and Brady Oberfoell had 15 digs.
“It was a really hard-fought match and I was proud to see the guys coming out and getting on top of the game,” Brozynski said.
Beating Marquette gave the Crusaders a chance to come full circle on what some players were calling their “Revenge Tour.”
“They were ecstatic,” Brozynski said. “We had this confidence, this aura about us that we’re going to give it our best shot. We knew we could do it.”
All that stood in the way of the Crusaders and a completed job was an Arrowhead team they defeated two out of three times during the regular season — in the championship matches of the Kettle Moraine and Classic 8 Conference tournaments.
In the championship match, CMH forced Arrowhead into 17 attacking errors (against just 23 kills) and six serve-receive errors.
“We were really sound on defense and blocking, and forced them to have to hit around us,” Brozynski said. “We made them make their own errors by putting up a good defensive front.”
Coello again led the Crusaders with 11 kills, while Basarich and Bodus added six each. Oberfoell led the way with 12 digs, while Brown had 16 assists and nine digs.
Catholic Memorial Statistical Leaders
Kills: Vinny Coello, 395
Digs: Brady Oberfoell, 342
Assists: Tim Serb, 480; Ryan Brown, 470
Blocks: Greg Bodus, 105
Aces: Coello, 67
All-State and All-Conference Accolades
Coello – Wisconsin player of the year; first-team all-conference
Oberfoell – second-team all-state; Classic 8 Conference libero of the year
Roman Rothermel – second-team all-state; first-team all-conference
Brown – honorable mention all-state; second-team all-conference
Ben Goodheer – honorable mention all-state; second-team all-conference
Bodus – second-team all-conference
Serb – honorable mention all-conference