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From jump-shots to jump-serves

By Sammie Levin and Zack Miller
Published: April 2009

Head volleyball coach Todd Elwell tries to reach out for other players to build a broader diversity for the team, and this year, he succeeded in recruiting four new players. Interestingly enough, all four of these players were members of the Boys’ Varsity Basketball team.

One would think that this would be a coincidence because basketball and volleyball appear to be drastically different sports; basketball requires impeccable endurance, speed and hand-eye coordination, while volleyball is a game of placement and strength.

Elwell explains, however, that there is a connection between the two sports.

“Volleyball is more of a mental sport than people think¦ and if you can dunk a basketball, it’s similar to smashing the volleyball over the net, Elwell said.

The four newest players are seniors Tyrik Wilson and Tavone Wynder, along with juniors Alex O’Hagan and Ethan Landzberg.

Though it is early on in the season, the players’ basketball abilities have already proved to help them in volleyball.

The team has had two games thus far, victories against Catholic Memorial and Braintree.

Elwell proudly notes that there were “more attacks over the net and more kills than he has ever seen, which could potentially be a result of the basketball players’ natures to jump high and reach for the ball.

“These shots cannot happen with good passing and setting, Elwell said.

Although many people may notice only the killer shot, the rest of the team’s efforts should be acknowledged.

With several newcomers on varsity getting a lot of playing time, one would think that veteran players would resent them.

Most of the veterans, however, look up to the rookies not only because of their towering heights, but also because of the positive impact they have made on the team thus far.

“[The four] have been really good and since some of them are captains for the basketball team, they have brought a lot of leadership, sophomore and returning player Bryan Cheng said. “I’m sure there is some jealousy but there always is on a sports team¦ We all appreciate them.

It is clear why Elwell would try to encourage and recruit basketball players for the volleyball team, yet it is less apparent why Wilson, Wynder, O’Hagan, and Landzberg would be inclined to join the team with no real prior experience.

“It doesn’t matter what sport [they're playing], athletes still like to compete and be successful, Elwell said.

“Last year we were the number one seed and we had a home game championship that attracted a big audience¦ As members of a team themselves, they can respect what volleyball has done.

Wilson offered insight for joining the team. He initially joined to help improve his basketball skills for college.

But since then, he’s taken on a new appreciation for the sport.

“I’ve gotten into it¦ I wish I started playing last year, Wilson said.

Compared to basketball, Wilson has noticed that volleyball involves “more lecturing, more resting, and more thinking.

Although it was his first time playing in a volleyball game, Wilson was not nervous.

Instead he felt “ready and excited to help out the team.

Landzberg started with a different attitude.

His initial hopes had been to join “something less intensive than basketball and to keep himself in shape during the spring.

As the season progressed, he improved his vertical leap, as well as his teamwork skills. Landzberg describes the experience as an “overall good decision, honing his basketball skills and adding a sport to his repertoire.

Many of the basketball team members were still in shape at the beginning of the season, making the transition from one sport to another considerably smoother.

The additions to the team have proven cohesive and effective with the veteran players, making Elwell more enthusiastic about the upcoming season.

It seems that the energy needed to stimulate the volleyball team to its full potential may have arrived.
Elwell has expressed high hopes for the season, even hoping to surpass the previous one.

American writer and producer Gail Parent once said, “Volleyball is a Jewish sport. It’s fun, and nobody can get hurt.

Well, if she ever gets the chance to witness the South Boys’ Varsity Volleyball team in motion, she can eat her words.

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