SALVO TO STATES

Boys’ Volleyball players share thoughts on the new season.

SALVO+TO+STATES

Duane Long

Tian Yang Ji, Staff Writer

March signals the peak of the boys’ volleyball season. All of its members, J.V. and varsity alike, have been trying their hardest to make this year the best it has ever been; players, like senior Christopher Rice, have nothing but a shower of praise for the team this year.
Rice, a veteran of varsity, expressed high hopes for this season. “I am pretty confident in the team,” he said. Asserting confidence is an important factor for a successful team.
Equally as confident is sophomore Justin Phan, a veteran on the J.V. team. Namely, he has noticed an improvement in the technique of J.V. this year. Clear to him are the individual gains of its players. “I feel like this year we have really good hitters, our setters are really good, we’re starting to practice a lot,” he said.
Naturally, a determined team comes with big goals. “Our ultimate goal is to definitely go to states like we did last year and see how well we do there,” Rice said. Shooting for a seat on the state bracket is no easy task, however. Although varsity was able to beat Boca High in states last year with a close match, they fell to Miami Killian High School. With those memories in mind, analyzing the competition has become more important than ever.
“I would say Boca and Cardinal Gibbon look like the strongest teams this year,” Rice figured. Likewise, Phan said that Park Vista will be their fiercest rival this year.
Lending to their confidence is their recognition of their greatest strengths. Yet, the two players have surprisingly different answers as to what they are great at.
“Our coach is mainly focusing on our defense since our hitting isn’t as strong this year, so we do a lot of defensive drills,” Rice said. Unlike varsity, Phan stresses that the teamwork of J.V. is their greatest asset. Going off on their friendship and sense of unified communication lets everyone play and work together. Of course, while each team has their own strengths, it is important to recognize aspects to improve on as well. The J.V. may work well as a unit, but according to Phan, their shot calling could use some more practice. On the varsity team, Rice supposed that while defense may be strong this year, hitting could use some improvement.
Players come and go every year for every sport, and boys’ volleyball is no exception. Reeling from the loss of star player Austin Reinhart last year, varsity has been trying to reclaim his glory. “Oh, he could play all the way around the court and he was our strongest hitter,” Rice said. Making his mark last year by being a member of the 2016 Spring All-Conference Team, Reinhart now goes to UCF.
With the headliner of last year out of the picture, a new one must come to take the pedestal. “I think the star player this year is Ethan Fogt,” Rice proclaimed. The senior is also a veteran of the varsity team. “He has the most experience so he knows how to play against tougher opponents.”
Measuring up to the current roster will be no easy feat for aspiring players, and Coach Louis, instructor of varsity, has a few choice words for them. “Expectations are high, so come out, be ready to hustle hard, play hard,” he said.