When Canisius senior David Jepson broke his leg in May, he knew he had to get back on the volleyball court to lead his team to a Monsignor Martin championship. Just as he was strong enough to play again, the Crusaders lost their first conference match in 12 years to St. Joe’s on Sept. 26.
He got redemption, and did it in style, on Friday night.
It’s safe to say Jepson, who complements explosive athleticism with a mighty punch when he wallops the ball, has fully recovered. He fueled Canisius to its 13th consecutive Monsignor Martin championship in straight sets (25-18, 25-22, 25-21) over St. Joe’s. In the first match of the night, St. Mary’s steamrolled Immaculata in the girls championship.
Canisius’ student section, the “Blue Crew,” hoisted Jepson on their shoulders as they boisterously chanted “I believe that we have won” following the game.
“It feels great to end my career like that and to continue our streak,” said Jepson, who struggled to catch his breath after the game. “[The loss] definitely motivated us. We kept working harder in practice and focused more.”
Bleachers full and tensions high, host site St. Francis High School was a land of no surprises Friday night. Undefeated St. Mary’s throttled second-place Immaculata Academy in straight sets. The powerful, powder-blue Lady Lancers jumped out to a 13-1 first-set lead and never slowed down. The Bears couldn’t snare St. Mary’s scintillating spikes and fell 25-8, 25-14, 25-19.
The boys final was a more competitive affair before it started. St. Joe’s and Canisius, age-old rivals, split the regular season series. The Marauders (15-5) hung tough in every set in the championship, but Canisius pulled away with clutch late-game hitting and crucial leadership from Jepson.
“It’s almost heroic, his comeback,” said Canisius head coach Tom Weislo, who was in the gym when Jepson broke his leg. “It was dramatic. It was horrible. And to his credit, his work ethic, he could have quit and said: ‘I can’t do it; it’s going to be too much.’ But he worked harder than anybody I’ve ever seen to get back.”
While Canisius finished the year 25-5, St. Mary’s has not lost a set in league play in two years. The Lady Lancers were the only team to beat Immaculata (11-3) this season. Sophomore Leah Meyer dominated the net game, earning MVP honors.
Though Friday night was the Crusaders’ last match of the season, while St. Mary’s will play in the New York Catholic High School Athletic Association state tournament in two weeks.