This year’s new varsity boys volleyball team is proof that athleticism, hard work and a tight-knit team, no matter how inexperienced, can achieve success. The team’s spring season started off rocky, but is now headed uphill, as they are 6-2 in league and looking to outshine two other teams for a league victory.
As the season started, the team faced a variety of obstacles, including the fact that only four out of the twelve players had club volleyball experience. Varsity boys volleyball coach David Radford said that the real challenge was channeling the players’ athletic experience from other sports, which includes water polo, swimming and tennis, into volleyball skills and fundamentals.
“The hardest part is taking the raw athletic talent of those who have never played and modeling them into players,” Radford said. “Thankfully their athletic skill sets are great enough that it has taken little time turning them into volleyball players.”
Along with the raw athletic talent that new players brought came the ability to bond into a well rounded and tight-knit team. Senior Ian McColl attributed much of the team’s attitude to Radford.
“I think that we have really come together as a team, especially considering that we are all so new,” Ian said. “Our coach has done an incredible job of keeping our spirits up and getting us to push our hardest when a game gets close.”
The team has relied heavily on its other strong points as well, including height and its mobile and speedy defense. With a front row ranging from 6’1 to 6’5 and players like Ian and senior Spencer Simonides, the team is able to put up a strong block and hit over the opposing team’s block.
Being a new team, however, the players still have much to work on.
“Our defense is becoming very good and our general offense is strong,” Radford said.
“However, in order to overcome and dominate the better teams we need to work on making attacks in a more organized and complex manner.”
Besides becoming more organized, players are continuing to work on fundamentals, including improving their serve and receives, practicing free ball plays and tweaking their ball control. Ball control, Radford said, will add deception and quickness to their attack.
Despite this, the team’s greatest asset and strength is the bond between its players and love of the game.
“What I love about this team is that we never really give up or lose heart,” freshman Nathan Smith said. “We don’t let bad plays affect how we play the next play.”
This was certainly the case during the Eagles’ game against East Side Prep, in which they were missing one of their key players, Ian, and had to put in other players from the bench that lacked his height. After winning the first and third sets and losing the second and fourth, tensions ran high. However, players pulled together, stepped up and defeated East Side Prep in the fifth set.
Although height works to the team’s advantage, players said that games really are a group effort. Everyone, even those on the bench, are completely engrossed in each aspect of the game.
“I think the thing I have enjoyed most has been that our team has really great chemistry,” Spencer said. “We play our games not just for each of us as individuals but for everyone else on the team as well.”
Radford said the team hopes to get more LAHS students out to support them in their final home game, and that this involvement will encourage more students to try out next year. The game is scheduled to be on May 3.
For now, Radford and the team are enjoying improving their skill, winning games and forming friendships. The first season of boys volleyball at Los Altos has been focused on hard work, sportsmanship and good fun.
“The boys have bonded so well,” Radford said. “I can’t express how happy I am with that. We have our inside jokes and everyone is very uplifting when working on our weakness. Something we all stress when times are tough is, ‘Celebrate, don’t alienate.’”