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The Ace Heard Around the World


Scott Schmitt '23 lifts the championship trophy after Saturday's volleyball state title match.
  • Athletics
Tim LeCras

Scott Schmitt ‘23 lined up for a service point like he has done a thousand times since stepping foot on the Saint Joseph High School volleyball court. 

While lifting the ball with his right hand straight up in front of his eyes, seemingly visualizing his next serve, Schmitt had the weight of his team and the entire Falcons community on his shoulders. 

What happened next will forever be known as “the Ace heard around the world.” 

He tossed the ball to the ceiling, leaped into the air and ripped the ball towards the middle of the Summit defense, only it kept going. Past the front line of Hilltoppers. Past the middle and back defenders as well and sinking fast. All eyes on the end line and the corner official who emphatically pointed his flag towards the court, indicating the serve inbounds.

Point Saint Joe’s. Set Saint Joe’s. Match Saint Joe’s. Championship Saint Joe’s. 

For the fourth time in school history, the volleyball team was officially crowned State Champions.

“This was an unbelievable match,” head coach Miguel Cabrita '91 said. “Our guys played their hearts out and I am so proud of them. Win or lose, they left it all on the court. Those last six points were an amazing thing to watch with the whole team contributing to the victory. This team deserves to be champions.”

The sheer fact that there was a match point in Saint Joe’s favor was shocking for many. 

Trailing 24-21, the Falcons were on the verge of losing until Aarav Zutshi ‘23 led a 4-point streak to give Saint Joe’s the 25-24 advantage. During the momentum swing, Nick Drake ‘24 faked a pass and instead pushed the ball over the net to cut the deficit to two. 

After cutting the Summit lead to one, Sam Contursi ‘25 dove to the ground to keep the match alive. Schmitt tied the score immediately after to send the Saint Joe’s contingency into a frenzy

Zutshi gave the Falcons the lead with an ace, before Summit tied the score, 25-25. Saint Joe’s won the next point on a kill by Robert Ilcyn ‘23 to set up Schmitt’s match-winning ace.

“I could tell something was brewing from the 24-21 comeback,” Schmitt said. “To get all the way back to extra points, I knew when it was 26-25 and I had the serve in my hands, I could feel that I could hit something special. I went out there to serve as hard as I could and it landed in.”

Schmitt’s ace capped an incredible comeback that for many thought was not possible, but, like so often this season, the Falcons found a way. 

Saint Joe’s won a thrilling first game, 25-23, that featured eight ties in the final 16 service points. 

Summit put up the equalizer in the second set, ending the frame on an 11-4 run. 

The dramatic conclusion to the 2023 season is emblematic of the first 28 matches of the year. Both Schmitt and Cabrita credited the title-winning comeback to the constant practice of being mentally centered during a match.

Cabrita said the team never got down on themselves at any point during the match and even took over the last timeout all on their own. 

“Most teams pack it in at that point,” he said. “They quit and shut down. Our guys went in there and said one point at a time. We’ve been working on mental fortitude all year. I am proud that the team came through strongly when it counted.”

  • Volleyball