Amongst their recent challenges, including the ongoing field construction and the loss of a strong group of graduating seniors including Derek Russell, the team has persevered.
Varsity coach Ted Delicandro commented that, although he greatly enjoyed coaching last year’s team, “to lose three games by a total of six points is frustrating and disappointing at the same time.
Despite last years record of four wins and seven losses both the players and coaches feel that the game was played at a higher level than it has in pervious years.
Many of their games were tremendously close, and were often fought bitterly to the last point. This surge of skill and talent has elevated South’s team to a status far above the “doormat of the league that it once was.
With a roster full of experienced players from last year, talent is not thought to be a main issue facing the team. Delicandro has commented that one of the largest obstacles will be learning to buckle down in the fourth quarter and overcome adversity.
Many have voiced skepticism about South’s ability to become a force on the field without last year’s star players, but senior and co-captain Lucas Walker feels the team is heading in a very positive direction.
“Whenever you have 20 seniors on a team that’s a huge positive, especially when a lot of those seniors have a lot of game experience, he said. “Our senior leadership is going to take us to the next level and to one of the best seasons in South football history.
The presence of experienced players will undoubtedly be a vital resource for the team. In addition, Walker is optimistic that the loss of seniors from other teams will even out the competition across the board.
“Our team is going to be less affected by the loss of last year’s seniors compared to other teams we play, because we didn’t have a lot of senior starters last year. Our team was mostly made up of juniors who are now entering their senior year, Walker said.
One of the most vital losses was All-Star quarterback Derek Russell who has been replaced by junior Justin Klumpp.
Klumpp has proven to be a worthy player , and he understands the role he must live up to.
“[Being head quarterback] is a lot of pressure, but I think I handled it well, and I know I’ll never be Derek Russell but I can still help the team win.
The positive attitude that has spread through the team about the season seems to be outweighing the difficulties they have faced. It seems that South is finally gearing up for an unprecedented season of very high level competition.
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.]]>