Cincinnati Moeller Volleyball Expects Challenge From Rival Elder

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Cincinnati Moeller Volleyball

Archbishop Moeller has dominated the state boys' volleyball scene
the past couple of years. The Crusaders have won three of the past four
state titles, including 2004, 2005 and 2007. Moeller was state
runners-up in 2003 and 2006. But, Moeller might not be the Cincinnati-area favorite this spring.
That distinction will likely be reserved for Greater Catholic South
division rival Cincinnati Elder.


Archbishop Moeller has dominated the state boys' volleyball scene the past couple of years. The Crusaders have won three of the past four state titles, including 2004, 2005 and 2007. Moeller was state runners-up in 2003 and 2006.

The Crusaders, who went undefeated (29-0) last season en route to the state title, are expected to have yet another strong squad as they prepare for the start of the season this weekend.

But, Moeller might not be the Cincinnati-area favorite this spring. That distinction will likely be reserved for Greater Catholic South division rival Cincinnati Elder.

Elder, the 2007 state runner-up, is ranked No. 5 in the StudentSportsVolleyball.com National Fab 50 poll. The Panthers (23-6 in 2007) return several key players from last season's team.

Senior outside hitter Andrew Wessels and senior setter Craig Wessels (twin brothers), senior libero Alex Bertke and senior opposite hitter Tony Baldrick are among the top players returning.

“We're lucky enough to have a lot of players returning from last year and the experience can only help,” Elder coach Sean Tierney told the Community Press last week. “From top to bottom, we have quality athletes.”

Moeller and Elder will both get a good early season test as the teams have a match at Elder April 3. The teams will meet again in early May.

Elder, which most recently won state titles in 1999 and 2000, opens the season Saturday at Hilliard Darby.

Moeller, which is ranked No. 22 nationally, begins its season Friday at the sixth annual Tiger Classic Invitational in Wheaton, Ill.

The Crusaders might not have the depth as they did a year ago since 12 players graduated. But, three players return with varsity experience, according to Moeller coach Greg Ulland.

Among the top players this season will be senior setter Vinny Palopoli, senior outside hitter Andy McKenna and senior middle hitter Mark Shipp, who has committed Penn State. Senior outside hitter David Richards and junior outsider hitter Trevor Skove are also expected to make an impact.

“What we do have going for us are expectations,” Ulland said. “Moeller has been to the state finals for the past five years, winning three of them. That helps us. Our players expect to be there themselves, and that helps us as well.”

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