Regis spikes Spellman
It wasn’t time to panic – far from it.
But the Regis volleyball team knew it was important to respond immediately to a pair of non-league losses to Cardozo, one in the Judges Coaches vs. Cancer tournament Saturday and a second in a five-set scrimmage.
“We needed to bounce right back,” Tom McLaughlin said.
The Raiders did just that against one of their top CHSAA competition, beating Cardinal Spellman 25-16, 25-18, 25-7 Wednesday afternoon on the Upper East Side.
The win improved the defending CHSAA champions to 6-0 in league play, but more importantly, according to head coach Alex Chan, was how Regis played. That was a point he hammered home during a Spellman timeout in the second set.
“I said gentlemen we have to play a technical game,” Chan said. “You’re not here for the cameras, you’re not here for the audience and you’re not here just to win. You’re here to play a technical game and to do it by the book. Win or lose, you’re still going to come out looking good. “
The Raiders did just that in one of their most complete wins of the year. Brian Cavaluzzo, who was crafty at the net, and Will Salter did an excellent job of setting, Tyler Sellers, who had a team-high 16 kills, and fan-favorite Jack Stiuso were strong at the net and overall the blocking and defense was solid.
“We want to prove we’re not just a power team,” Sellers said. “We can play volleyball all around. Our back row players are phenomenal.”
Phenomenal is also a word that describes Tom McLaughlin. The senior, arguably one of the top hitters in the city, added 11 kills in the Raiders second win of the year against Spellman.
“He’s been with the team for four years,” Chan said. “His skills are unparalleled and phenomenal…but I think what makes him a unique player is his attitude. He’s 100 percent committed. He’s always prepared and extremely focused.”
Like virtually everyone else on the Regis squad, McLaughlin didn’t start playing competitive volleyball until his freshman year. He credits his strong arm to pitching as a kid and playing in net for the Regis soccer team.
He said he’s also increased his vertical this year and the results are evident.
“McLaughlin is a hard hitter, he’s definitely the most emotional player on the team and you can really see that on the court when he brings it out there,” Sellers said. “I would say he’s the hardest hitter in the league.”
Like a power pitcher with a wicked curveball, McLaughlin adds a touch of finesse at the net just to throw his opponents off.
“It’s a totally different style of play that [the opponent] is not always used to,” he said. “I really love it. It really works well.”
Regis, ranked No. 5 in New York City by MSG Varsity, raced out to a 12-4 lead in the first set en route to a 25-16 win and again got off to a quick start in the second set on five straight service points by Salter.
Led by Jurgen Kurti and Iloydel McCalla, Cardinal Spellman (5-2) roared back to tie it at 15, but Regis wrestled momentum back and outscored the Pilots, 10-3, to close out the set, 25-18.
“That’s where we picked it up and finished strong,” Sellers said.
Spellman coach Tom Cabrera said his team started out tentative and came on strong in the second set. But Regis capitalized on a few unforced errors and wouldn’t look back.
“I told these guys, you can’t let your guard down,” he said. “Every little inch, they’re going to take it. And that’s exactly what happened.”
And Regis did it with a thorough effort, much to Chan’s liking.
“What I like is we don’t play like six individuals,” Chan said. “They play like six elements of one unit. To me that’s phenomenal.”
Contact Dylan Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
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