When the Germantown boys volleyball team applies itself, like in the devastating 25-9 third set rout Wednesday night of visiting Homestead, it can be pretty special.
After finishing off the Highlanders in a 25-20, 23-25, 25-9, 25-18 decision, which wrapped up their second consecutive undefeated North Shore Conference campaign and their third straight league title overall, the Warhawks sure looked the part.
"I think we're a better all-around team," said senior outside hitter Jon Averkamp, one of six seniors honored this night by the Warhawks. "We have a lot more kids playing club and that's really helped."
In other words, it's just another milestone for the still very young program just in its seventh season with the only coach it's ever had, 26-year old Brian Rushmer.
"That first year (when he was 19) we were still a club team, but I still count that one," laughed Rushmer.
Then he got serious about how dramatic the team's development has been.
"We're definitely deeper than we've ever been," he said "We can get more guys on the court than ever and not lose anything (in terms of quality) when we sub. We were never like that before."
"...The competition in practice is just intense."
Results bear that out as Germantown, a two-time WIAA State Tournament qualifier, has been ranked in the top five of state polls almost all season (currently fourth) and the Warhawks are coming off an impressive title in the 14-team Homestead Invitational last Saturday.
The Warhawks also earned the top seed in their WIAA sectional bracket (play will begin shortly) and feel like they are just getting started.
"It's unbelievable how far we've come," said senior outside hitter Jake Showalter. "We think about where we started and now to win three conference titles in a row, wow!"
"That was the first goal, though. We'd like to get back to state again and see if we can't work our way towards that ultimate goal (a potential state title)."
Earlier this season, Germantown did fall to multi-time state champion Marquette in a five-game thriller. Rushmer pointed out that the Warhawks had leads twice late in the fifth game of that match but couldn't quite pull off the upset.
And even though Homestead, behind excellent outside hitter Blake Leeson, did take that second game, there was to be no upset this night.
That third game was proof positive of it, as after Homestead closed the gap to 5-4, the Warhawks, behind the serve of Showalter, went on a 12-0 run, which eventually extended itself into an 18-1 effort.
"That's what we can do," said Rushmer. "When we serve tough, block tough, and defend well, we can be a hard out. And the offense is just a given."
The Warhawks depth did show up in that outburst as junior middle hitter Benjamin Walter showed off a devastating hard, flat serve that resulted in three straight aces and junior middle hitter Lucas Deubler was an excellent alternate to the top offensive threats of Averkamp, Showalter and fellow senior Troy Thompsen.
Germantown got out to an 11-6 lead in the fourth set and then cruised to the clinching victory. Appropriately enough, the winning point came on an Averkamp ace.
The sturdy 6-7 Averkamp led the way with 20 kills, while second-year senior setter Jacob Reynolds continued his excellent play with 39 assists. Deubler and Walter had four aces each and Thompsen claimed three blocks. Senior libero Alexander Vance also had a good match.
Success has not gone to this team's head either. The players are still focused on the big prizes ahead while still keeping it light.
When asked if they have a chance at doing some really big things at the state tournament, Showalter and Averkamp both answered "definitely" almost simultaneously.
Then Averkamp laughed and said "Definitely squared."
"That's the thing about this team," said Rushmer. ""They're always having fun."
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