by Zach Rhein and Tate Slater, Sports Editor and Sports Reporter
photo contributed by Ian Brenner
It is undeniable that both the varsity and junior varsity (JV) boys volleyball teams have had successful seasons. Since last year, both teams’ records have drastically improved, the varsity team finishing third in the Dual County League and earning a spot at the Massachusetts State Cup.
Players attribute their success this season to the teams’ bonds, roster talent and leadership.
Varsity senior captain and University of California, Los Angeles commit Jaidin Russel said that the team’s combined talent helped them lead one another to their best potential. .
“We have seven seniors on the team this year, which is almost unheard of for a volleyball team, and all of the seniors have been able to lift the gameplay higher,” he said. “There are plenty of leaders on the team. They just need to figure out what they need to do to be the best players they can be.”
After an injury sidelined Russel, his teammates have stepped up in his absence, varsity player senior David Smith said.
“Jaidin has been our rock both on and off the court,” he said. “Having to play without him has caused everyone to step up as leaders.”
Team leaders’ impact stretches further than simply direction during games. Sophomore Zach Weiss, who plays on the varsity team, said that his upperclassmen teammates’ encouragement during practices have helped him improve..
Weiss said the players’ bonds and dedication to each other contributed to much of the season’s success.
“The main factor of this year’s success has been having each one of us holding others accountable not only to the team, but also to ourselves,” he said.
Michael Shen, a freshman on JV, said the team has worked hard on their communication. “Team chemistry was a vital factor in having the success that we had because it allowed us to communicate with each other very well.”
For others, the team’s communal feel is about more than communication; sophomore Ian Brenner said the team has formed a community that fosters growth.
Brenner, a member of the JV team, said he has not only grown much closer to the team throughout the season, but he is impressed with the team’s constant work ethic.
“The reason we’ve been so successful is our dedication, practicing two hours a day, six days a week. Everyone shows up six days a week. It’s always intense training, and that’s how we improve,” he said.
Shen said he has seen an unanticipated improvement in both his ability and that of his teammates.
“Over the course of the season, I’d like to say that I improved in virtually every aspect of my game. As a team, the difference between the start of the season and the end is night and day,” he said.
After his first year playing on the team, Brenner said that he looks forward to increasing his commitment to volleyball and taking time over the offseason to continue practicing.
“I am planning on doing a SMASH volleyball camp and taking every opportunity I can to play with my teammates,”he said.
With all of the players’ dedication and hard work on and off of the court, it’s not hard to imagine why the team has been so successful this season as they prepare for the postseason.