Boys volleyball plans for season, sets team goals

Practice centers around preparation for state series, players work hard to build chemistry

Nicholas Barbera, Reporter

After taking home a first place victory at the Argo Invitational tournament on April 1 and 2, the LT boys volleyball team plans to continue to work on their game throughout April and May. This includes improving upon aspects of both their offensive and defensive gameplay, while also maintaining a strong bond between team members, assistant head coach Cassandra Niego said. 

“Our strength is definitely blocking,” Niego said in mid April. “We’re working on more consistency with our serv[ing and] our passing, [which] has started to pay off.”

Another strong point of the team’s offense is its swinging and strong hitters, outside Joe Watkins ‘22 said. He added that one of the biggest areas for improvement is the chemistry necessary for the setters and hitters to be successful.

“Our setters are younger and [hitters] are older,” Watkins said. “We have different ideas of what to set. The younger you are, the slower you run things and then the older you are, the faster you run them, so we just [have] to meet in the middle [and] we’ll get that eventually.”

An added bonus of this year’s team is a large quantity of taller players, Watkins said.

“With that strong offensive line it’s hard for other teams to get swings on us and hard for them to stop our swings, because we’re so tall and we jump high,” Watkins said.

Even with the team’s overall height advantage, practice remains essential, Watkins said. The team has been focused on serving during practices, because of the 20 to 25 missed serves the team experienced when playing Argo.

“We’re just kind of layering the basics, step by step,” Niego said. “Looking for that overall continued growth throughout the season, not just being known as a powerhouse [team]. I think we should be [in a] good spot at that state series.”

Both Niego and Watkins mentioned their excitement regarding the potential of the team, particularly in the state series.

“We were ranked like seventh in the state [this year],” Watkins said. “The fact that we have a lot of potential to make a state run and win, I just like the idea that we have that opportunity. Obviously we’re going to have to work towards it and work hard, but I think it’s definitely in the cards for us.”

Niego’s hope for the state run stems from the determination seen in this team’s lineup.

“They work together, they communicate, and they don’t give up,” Niego said. “That is why I think the opportunity of where we’re at [in] a good state run, [with] continued hard work and growth, [presents] a possibility [with] a lot of potential.”

To expand on this idea, Niego described getting to know each team as one of her favorite parts of coaching, even though it often takes a good portion of the season to get to a point of comfort.

“Getting to know the kids takes some time at first [as] they’re a little bit nervous,” Niego said. “After a day of the tournament: Friday and Saturday, all of a sudden you can kind of see the walls coming down.”

Team bonding has both strategic edges and emotional ones as well, Niego said.

“We know what makes them tick and vice versa [and] those are the benefits of coaching: trying to create those long lasting team memories,” Niego said. “It is not the wins and losses that anyone’s going to remember, unless that team wins state. [Ultimately], when they’re my age, what they’re going to remember is [the] team.”

State finals for the team take place on June 3 and 4.