Coming back strong after losing an entire season of play: a daunting task for any team. Coming back strong after losing many talented senior leaders: even more so. Although this same reality reigns synonymous among all spring sports programs, none experienced such a loss as boys volleyball.
“We had 10 seniors last year, which was wonderful, and we would have been very successful,” head coach Jeremy Leyden said. “Their leadership and example would have helped strengthen the program.”
This season, the team entered a rebuilding phase, attempting to find an identity post-COVID shutdown. With only four seniors and no returning players with varsity experience, it fell to freshmen and sophomore interest in the sport to build up this team from scratch. However, COVID continued to be a looming threat to the team’s longevity.
“Boys Volleyball is very difficult to bring in new members (especially as freshmen). Once the boys realize how fun the sport can be, and they see the college opportunities, then they come out,” Leyden said. “COVID didn’t help us out this year; many boys were reluctant to try out for fear of quarantine or infection.”
Further complicating matters, an outbreak of the virus plagued the team late-April. And with the playoffs drawing ever closer, the loss of valuable practice and game experience was detrimental.
“The team just came out of a mid-season quarantine, and the loss of those 11 days was immediately noticeable,” Leyden said. “We weren’t sharp, and we made mistakes that were fixed earlier in the season.”
Each one of these setbacks have taken their toll on the program, amounting to a single win for the season on senior night. However, the resilience the team has shown—most evident in a late competitive loss to rival St. Vincent-St. Mary’s—makes this team a real threat in the postseason and stronger headed into 2022.
“Even though we are taking our lumps this season, this experience has traditionally led to strong teams in the future,” Leyden claimed. “We’d like to surprise teams in the playoffs, but we have lots of work to do.”
The boys will start their playoff run next Monday, May 24, against a formidable Kent Roosevelt program. There, they will showcase their new skills and set up for success in the future.