Our Varsity Volleyball team had a wild season. Last year’s starting lineup was almost fully made up of graduating seniors, so coming into this year, no one had any idea who would be the stars and who would be the supporters.
Our team this year was a very diverse group of kids, personality-wise. There were a lot of characters within this group of guys, notably those who spent most of their time on the bench. I myself was a member of the bench squad staring early in the season. Even with our diverse personalities, the team clicked almost instantly. The chemistry this year was really remarkable. Everyone on the team supported each other and came together for the love of the game.
We started off the season pretty rough with three losses in a row. Our team took a while to get used to each other and to develop a general style of play. An inexperienced setter, a rookie, and whole lot of second year players made for a difficult beginning. We were practicing and competing well, but we couldn’t seem to put it all together during the games. We hit an all-time low about halfway through the season with a record of 2-8.
The team got really hungry for a win at this point in the season. It was around this time when we started to really turn it on. We were playing for a playoff spot, and to do that we needed at least three more wins. When we played St. Paul’s for the second time, we were a whole different team. We really had grown as a squad and were ready to show it. We attained three glorious wins in a row, defeating St. Paul’s, John Carroll, and Archbishop Curley.
We then had to play St. Paul’s for a third time at the end of our regular season in a play-in game, which would decide whether or not we would make it to the playoffs. With the help of our rowdy student section and our even rowdier bench, we conquered St. Paul’s a final time. Unfortunately, after that we suffered a heart-breaking loss against Spalding, which ended our memorable season.
Coach Bianco is the most passionate volleyballer I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Once again I stood with Coach outside the cafeteria and asked my mentor a few questions. He said, “I expected us to make the playoffs. I expected us to compete at a high level. I think I also expected us to start a little slow, as we did. We had a lot of inexperience this year on the team, some younger players which typically we don’t see at the varsity level. But I think we met those expectations very well.”
Evan Flesher, nicknamed by Coach Davis as “Fleesher,” led the team in kills. Evan and I played our rookie years together back when we were sophomores on the J.V. team. Evan played club ball this past year and really improved for this season. He came out swinging and was one of our greatest threats all season long. I interviewed my good man about the team this past season, and he commented positively on their attitude, saying, “Nobody was really upset that they were on the bench or starting. They were just out there having fun, and that’s what every team needs.”
The bench was probably the most memorable part of this volleyball team. We really made a name for ourselves as the best bench in the league through our constant support and memorable victory dance moves. I had a chance to interview two fellow members of the bench squad: Matt Carr and Brian Gorman.
Carr explained, “We feasted off the crowd’s reactions. When we saw people laughing at us in the stands, we just kinda wanted to do more and just please the crowd, and that’s what we did.”
The team this year was indeed very special. It’s a team I’ll never forget being on. I hope MSJ volleyball can continue its rowdy legacy next year and maybe even get a better record than this year. Go Gaels.