Greyhounds oust St. Joe in four sets in title match

Team leaders (from left) Liam Muhly, Cole Phillipou and Will Dewire celebrated a second straight MIAA volleyball championship for Gilman.

by Joe DiBlasi

With only two starters back and a new head coach, the Gilman volleyball team was not penciled in as an automatic choice to win a second straight MIAA volleyball championship. The Greyhounds, however, peaked at season’s end and rolled through the playoffs, defeating Mount St. Joseph, 3-1, in the MIAA Championship Match, Saturday evening at St. Paul’s School in Brooklandville.

Gilman earned hard fought victories, 25-22 and 25-17, in the first two sets, but St. Joe rallied from behind to take the third set 28-26. But, the Hounds did not let the Gaels gain any momentum as they closed out the match and the championship with a 25-14 victory in game four. It was Gilman’s second straight title, its fourth in the last five years and fifth overall.

“When you lose that third game, it can get away from you,” said Greyhound first-year coach Diego Matorras. “We did a great job coming out and finishing off the match.”

Several Greyhounds had big nights, but none larger than junior Liam Muhly who powered home 23 kills. Senior Will Dewire had 13 perfect passes and 11 kills and Hudson Carroll added 15 perfect passes.

In addition, Tyler Whiterspoon had 10 digs and Noah Abrams had 32 assists and a 100% service rate.

Will Targonski, Alex Wethren and Patrick Connolly led the way for the Gaels.

Winning the title was all about building momentum, according to Muhly.

“We won the semis against Calvert Hall and we just carried that momentum through,” said Muhly. “We lost to them (MSJ) the last game of the regular season. We were just ready to go today.”

With Michael Sirinakis serving, St. Joe rolled off four straight points to take a 6-2 lead early in the third set, but later fell behind by four when Carroll got on a roll at the service line for Gilman. Eventually the teams were knotted at 17-17 and no one led again by more than one point until junior Brenna Turner delivered two straight service winners to lift the Gaels to the 28-26 win.

In the clinching fourth set, Abrams was on the service line to start off and he helped stake the Greyhounds to a quick 6-0 lead. St. Joe fought back within four, at 9-5, but Gilman, behind the serving of Steve Li scored the next five points to break open a commanding 14-5 advantage.

“It’s more the team,” said junior leader Cole Phillipou. “It’s never one player that does it, but its all of us coming together as a team that really helps us win this championship.”

First year Gilman coach Diego Matorras confers with his squad during time out in the MIAA final.

“Unbelievable” was the first word Dewire used to describe the contributions of Matorras, a native of Argentina and a former grad assistant coach for the University of Central Florida women’s team. He also coached professionally in the lower levels of River Plate in Bueonos Aires, Argentina and served as a strength trainer for men’s and women’s teams in the higher levels.

“Diego is the first outsider to ever head coach the Gilman varsity,” said Dewire. “First year, he leads the JV to a championship and leads the varsity to winning a championship. It’s tough to describe how amazing he really is.”

Dewire also discussed the ability of his team to overcome adversity.

“Liam (Muhly) is our star player. He goes down in the middle of the season, but we persevered,” added Dewire. “That’s what our team is all about. We fought every single practice. Every single game we fought, fought, fought. We were the three seed coming into this playoff; we made it to the championship and it showed tonight. We don’t get down on ourselves. This team is amazing. We have two returning starters and here we are.”