It’s no secret that momentum is king in volleyball, but Kellenberg managed to will it from seemingly thin air when it needed it the most; down 0-2 and facing a final set against CHSAA rival Chaminade.
The host Firebirds took the final three sets to seal a 24-26, 18-25, 25-22. 25-22, 25-20 comeback victory Monday made possible not only by quality play, but by on-the-court emotion that never left or turned negative, even when defeat seemed imminent.
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“You can’t look down on yourself because then the other team gets the momentum and they start swinging harder,” Kevin Keenan said. “When I went out there, I just kept trying to swing as hard as I could and play as hard as I could to bring my team up.”
Keenan, who had 19 kills, energized the Firebirds (9-2) by patting teammates on the back after every point and letting out yells whenever fortune would swing in his side’s favor. It rubbed off on his teammates.
“Just a lot of screams, a lot of hype from the teammates,” Aidan McManaman said.
Chaminade (7-4) controlled the first two sets, never trailing in the second set. With the third set tied at 11, Kellenberg won four of the next five points to take a 15-12 lead, gaining control for the first time in the match.
“When you’re down, the main part is keeping your morale up,” Tyler Oleksiw said.
Kellenberg broke out of a closely contested fourth set by going on a 10-2 run to pull even heading into the fifth. The Firebirds never trailed in the final set, but had cause for worry when the Flyers scored seven consecutive points to pull to within 23-20 before Kellenberg got the final two points.
“We toned it down at the end there and we almost gave it up,” Keenan said. “That’s how much the momentum can shift.”
Ryan Wilkens had 14 kills. McManaman had seven blocks and four kills, and Jose Marulanda had 54 assists. Chaminade’s Peter Petersen had 20 kills, Connor Flynn had 11 and Jason Padilla had seven.
The Firebirds won the season series against Chaminade, 2-1, and may have hit their stride as the postseason looms. And to this team, that can make all the difference.