Updated: 12 hours ago
By Ishani Chettri ('20) and Cassandra Vega (‘20)
Spring sports usually mean getting out the baseball bats, lacrosse sticks and track spikes for most SBHS athletes, but one team stands out. They practice every day in the gym to make their mark in a sport that often remains underappreciated: volleyball. The boys’ varsity volleyball team, led by senior captain Danny Sun and Coach Mr. Jeff King, has currently played 26 games in total with 15-11 or 15 wins and 11 losses. In their league, they have played 12 games with 6 wins and 6 losses.
“The coaches have prepared us physically through conditioning in the beginning of the season, but also mentally. [Coach King] has pushed us to play at the level he knows we can… Coach wasn’t satisfied because he knew we could play better,” said Sun.
The high expectations began as earlier than most would expect, as offseason preparation and excitement for the upcoming season was on all the boys’ minds.
Official practice began for the 14-member team on March 7 as they prepared for their first match against Northern Burlington High School on April 2. They won two out of the three sets played (2-0) and secured their very first win of the 2019 spring season. Then on the following day April 3rd, the boys played their first league game against St. Joseph High School (Metuchen), but unfortunately lost the match by one set with the final score of 1-2.
Sun said that to “get back into our groove, I think it’s important to understand... our potential and continue to fight to reach and surpass that potential despite a few disappointing results.”
The season has been a mix of wins and losses for the array of seniors, juniors, and sophomores who put their all into every match, but the boys never fail to acknowledge their mistakes as they focus on improving their game.
Junior player Numair Iqbal said, “This season I want[ed] to improve passing-wise as well as receiving more opportunities to spike from the opponent team and attacking the ball from different areas. I’m an outside hitter so I help get points off of spikes game-wise, but I can also bring energy onto the court team-wise.”
Players are imperative to any game, especially on the volleyball court, yet another key factor that keeps this team organized and prepared for any obstacle is Coach King, who has been looking forward to this season and outlined a simple plan for the boys to follow in order to achieve success.
“We didn’t discuss many specific goals. Generally, we wanted to be a balanced team that used all positions on the court. It’s always a goal to make states (which we did),” said Coach King.
Though the team didn’t face many extreme nor difficult obstacles, Coach King and the team decided to focus their attention on strategies and polishing up basic skills like passing and playing in multiple positions. Coach King’s objective of going back to the basics were to “help their awareness and their ability to adapt” while switching positions in preseason scrimmages allowed the players “to change lineups [in order] to find the best fit.”
However, a problem did arise when this year’s spring break landed right in the middle of the team’s season. Spring break was a possibility of distraction for the team and things didn’t get easier when their upcoming game schedule included matches with schools that were considered among the top 20 in state. But Coach King set aside these problems and guided the team towards a more disciplined and compassionate route.
“The best way to deal with any obstacle is to understand who you are as a team, understand your strengths and weaknesses and stay within yourself,” said Coach King.
The Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament (GMCs) for boys’ volleyball in Central New Jersey ended on May 18 with Old Bridge defeating J.P. Stevens with 2-0, but for the SBHS boys’ varsity volleyball team, GMCs unfortunately ended for them on May 14 when they lost to Colonia High School with the score of 0-2 during their first match.
Senior Connor Ferry said, “The loss wasn’t that much of a big blow since we have a shot at something much bigger [at States]. Actually, this season was one of the best seasons because of our chemistry and we all really enjoy being with each other as a team. We focused on having fun and the results followed.”
Despite the team’s loss at the quarterfinals, they had the opportunity to play their first 2019 State Tournament (NJSIAA) match on May 21 against St. John Vianney High School and won 2-0, which was also their last home game. On May 23, the team’s quarterfinals match was St. Joseph (Met.) High School and won 2-0 once again as they proceeded to the next round. Unfortunately, the team lost to their semifinals match Hunterdon Central high school with the score of 0-2 on May 29, which marked the end of their 2019 season.
The team ended the season well and finished strong as they send off majority of the seniors that will graduate onto larger milestones. They have played to the best of their extents and despite their exit from the NJSIAA tournament, all 14 boys of the SBHS boys varsity volleyball team have exhibited passion and endless effort into every one of their plays this season.
Iqbal said, “My favorite part of playing volleyball in this team is that it's different than what you think it is or when you play volleyball during gym class. There’s more energy and it’s quick-paced but it’s able to draw a viewer in and change that viewer’s perspective of the sport.”