MHS spikers earn all-Big 8 honors

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton senior libero Dylan Griffith was named first-team all-Big Eight Conference and first-team all-state./Times-Tribune photo by Rob Reischel

It was another magical season for Middleton’s boys’ volleyball team.

A seventh straight Big Eight Conference title. A sixth consecutive sectional crown, which meant a sixth straight trip to state.

As expected, several Cardinals received postseason honors for their impressive seasons.

Senior libero Dylan Griffith was named first-team all-Big Eight Conference and first-team all-state. Junior outside hitter Parker Van Buren was named first-team all-league and second-team all-state, while senior outside hitter Eagan Peters-Michaud earned first-team all-Big Eight and honorable-mention all-state honors.

Senior setter Matt Ballweg, and senior middle hitters Sam Dettman and Owen Engling were both named second-team all-Big Eight, as well.

Griffith, a tri-captain, led the Cardinals with 388 digs, the third-most of the rally scoring era. Griffith also had 47 aces and a 2.32 passing average — which both were Middleton’s second-best figures of the rally scoring-era.

Griffith finished second in school history in digs (615), 10th in career aces (72) and had the best passing average in school history since rally scoring began (2.25).

“I think one of the absolute highlights of the season came at the banquet when Dylan found out he was first team all-state,” Middleton coach Ben White said. “The look of joy and shock was so genuine and real, that it made everyone either smile or cry.

“Dylan has done everything the right way and put in more time and effort on his game than anyone I know. His form is textbook. Everything he does he does with precision. And he plays within himself. Always calm and cool. Never rattled.

“We as a coaching staff are so proud of all he has accomplished. He waited his time to be Libero. He never tried to be Thomas Robson. He was always himself and played his game. We were also impressed at the leader he became. He grew so much as a person from freshmen to senior year.”

Van Buren was named Middleton’s MVP after finishing with 359 kills and a stellar .382 kill percentage (kills – errors/attempts). Van Buren, who has grown four inches in the last year, might not be done either, which bodes extremely well for the 2019 Cardinals.

“Parker was a terminator,” White said. “He played big in big matches, and he was so consistent all year.

“Parker is going to be one of the top-five players in the state next year. He will be everyone's focus. We'll count on him to bring an all-around game and improve his blocking, defense and serving. He has so much room for growth. If he continues to develop, he could be scary good.”

Peters-Michaud was another tri-captain who had 392 kills, the second-highest mark at MHS during the rally scoring-era. Peters-Michaud added 43 aces, 38 blocks and 187 digs.

Peters-Michaud finished as Middleton’s all-time leader in kills (935), was seventh in career digs (484) and fifth in career aces (87).

“Eagan's name is all over the record books at MHS,” White said. “To set the career kill mark is a huge accomplishment. To do it in three years, shows how consistent of a player he has been during his time.

“He has three seasons that are in the top-10 in kills at MHS. I think the great thing about Eagan was his competitiveness that grew throughout his career. He wanted the ball. I cannot say enough about Eagan and what legacy he leaves behind. His name will be all over the record books for a while.”

Ballweg became the first player in MHS history to notch 1,000 assists in a season, finishing with 1,023. He also finished second in career assists with 1,134 and added 32 aces, 31 blocks and 143 digs this year.

“At the all-conference meeting, I made my case for our six players that play a majority of the time to all be first-team all-conference,” White said. “I stated, besides (Madison East’s) Sam (Heiman, the Big Eight Player of the Year), I don't think anyone else in conference would start on our team.

“If Matt Ballweg was on any other team in conference, he'd be up for player of the year. That's the truth. What Matt Ballweg did in one year is beyond exceptional. He ran the show. He called the shots. He took advantage of all the weapons he had and he used them. He was so consistent and confident. I hope that carries over to the pitcher's mound this year.”

Dettman, another tri-captain, had 206 kills and finished 11th in school history with 393 career kills. Dettman also had a .320 kill percentage and notched 46 blocks.

“Sam has been a force for us in the middle for two years,” White said. “He’s always there and ready to deliver. His offense, along with Owen's, took the attention of our opponents to open things up for Eagan and Parker.

“Sam is a born leader and once he figured that out, the boys at the younger levels followed his lead. He was a mentor to our younger middles this year and his legacy will continue based on the performance of the classes below. He left his mark on this program in so many ways. We coaches truly appreciate what he has done to grow this sport at MHS and develop our future success.”

Engling finished the year with 137 kills and 61 blocks, which tied for ninth in the rally scoring-era.

“Owen was probably the player you wanted to watch most after a play,” White said. “Best facial expressions and celebrations on the team. He was a beast at the net blocking. He probably didn't have as many blocks as he wanted because teams did everything they could to keep the ball away from him. And nobody played better at the end of their career than Owen.

“We named him MVP of our state appearance. Owen is a National Merit semifinalist, president of multiple clubs and is going to do great things in this world. We're just happy to have been part of it.”

In addition, Max McDonough won the coach's award and Adrian Gonzales was named most improved player.

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