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Boys Volleyball Sets Goals and Works to Achieve Them

Mina Orlic, Staff Writer

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“We didn’t give up. Even when we were down, we persisted.””

— Freshman Outside Hitter Blaise Adona

The UC High Varsity Boys Volleyball Team celebrates the end of their season with the year “2017” added to the banners hanging on our gym wall. Losing only one game, the boys had a successful season and are this year’s champions of the Eastern League.

   The team attributes their success in part to their team chemistry, which has grown immensely since the start of the season. Senior Libero Daniel Yahyakhan said, “This year, I think our team was the closest it’s ever been in the four years I have been in the program. We all joke, laugh, and have a great time wherever we are together.” Head Coach Brooke Choi added, “Team chemistry is difficult to teach. It is important that all players leave any baggage or feelings at the door when they come to practice and agree to make decisions and work together for what is best for the whole team. As the season progressed, the team improved on putting team before self.”

  However, it wasn’t just their team chemistry that helped them score on the court. Sophomore Setter James McMillan stated, “I think we did well on improving the basics that we needed to be successful individually, and then combining those individual skills that we have attained and putting that together to form a well-rounded team. Our passing has improved greatly, and we can run a more fun and more advanced offense.” Freshman Outside Hitter Blaise Adona added, “We didn’t give up. Even when we were down, we persisted.”

  Not only did the team play well as a whole, but there were some individuals that stood out on the court. “As an outside hitter, Sophomore Connor Martin shoulders many responsibilities on the team. He led the team in attacking stats but also was a huge part of serve/receive and defense. Senior Skylar Tylski and Junior Donovan Todorov dominated as middle blockers and hitters as well. In a 5-1 offense [a strategy where the setter plays both front row and back row], James McMillan directed the play calling and guided the team throughout each point,” said Choi.

   While the team played exceptionally well this season, there are always skills you need to improve on for next year. Choi stated, “We always need to improve serve/receive and passing skills, because that foundation allows everything else to run more smoothly. We can also work on third ball contact location in order to keep pressure on the opposing team.”

    The team’s most challenging game and only loss was away against Point Loma High. “They have a more mentally mature team and most of their players play club [travel volleyball] together, so they are a lot more comfortable playing with each other,” expressed McMillan.

   Many players voiced that their last league game against Hoover High was their favorite. The players got so caught up in the game that even the bench acted out comedic cheers as a way to celebrate their kills and other impressive points they earned. Adona said, “It was fun to play Serra, because I know a lot of the people, but I think that our last two games, against Christian and Hoover were my favorite, because we were really fired up and the bench was really funny.”

   Consisting of mainly sophomores and some juniors, the team this year was considered to be one of the younger teams. Some advantages, such as more returning players, can make a younger team more appealing but there are also some disadvantages. “As a young team, there is no doubt all of our players are still developing physically, mentally, and emotionally, and are still learning to balance the demands of school, athletics, and family life. I’d like to think our many talks after practices and games guide them for success not just on the volleyball court but with life decisions that will enable them to succeed with future school, job, or other decisions,” explained Choi.

   The team was able to find the right mindset and, even when they were in a bit of a rough situation, they persisted and closed the season out with a title. Now that the season is over, they look forward to another rewarding season next year. Choi expressed, “Both JV and varsity ended the season on high notes with varsity winning Eastern League and JV winning seven straight matches, so we have the potential for another great year next year with both teams.”

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Boys Volleyball Sets Goals and Works to Achieve Them