Youth Movement Refuels Volleyball


Nikki Honda, Staff Writer

Four freshmen are making an impact for the varsity volleyball squad this spring. Coaches Dave Chen and John Vuong promoted Ryan First, Michael Standring, Joe Worsley, and Jack Eisner to varsity in spite of their limited experience.

Outside hitter Ryan First was proud of the payoff for his hard work during the tryout process: “It felt really good,” he admitted.

The youth movement seems to be working, as the team is undefeated in league competition, recently winning close games against Acalanes and Dougherty Valley.

Opting for youthful talent over veteran experience and leadership can be risky, but so far, the move has paid off.  Chen and Vuong have the confidence of their players.  First said, “They’re really good coaches. They take the game seriously but also let us play as a team.”

According to Chen, the freshmen have “fit in well to the program due in large part to our returners’ ability to make the new guys feel comfortable. It also helps that these freshmen don’t act like freshmen and really respond well to the team and the coaches.” Chen said they are “learning how to play as a cohesive team better and better each day at practices and during our matches. We couldn’t have hoped for a better first half of the season.”

Senior captains Ethan and Avery Stevenson have also helped support the younger players in these crucial victories. First said, “They give you a smile on the court all the time and make you laugh.”

Chen explained that the new players have helped on the defensive end of the team. “We aren’t the biggest guys, but our ability to out dig, out scrap, and fight for each ball is the foundation of our squad. It really displays our athletic abilities in unscripted and unexpected ways in order to prevent a ball from coming down on our side.”

To be fair, the freshman label is a bit misleading for most of these “rookies.” Ethan Stevenson said the freshmen are, “really experienced players. They’ve been playing for a long time.”

Chen said, “The guys add a new sense of energy to the program. They have a lot to learn about in terms of the history all the previous teams have left behind to bring us where we are today, but they are picking up how to compete at the higher levels.”

On Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21, the Cougars played in the Bellarmine Invitational Tournament. They also have three remaining home games, including a rematch with Acalanes, and the last regular home match against Clayton Valley.

Their goal is to keep their league title in order to advance into the North Coast Section tournament. Chen said, “Three years in a row in the Championships would be sweet, but we’ve got a lot of work to do before that.”