Frosh Trio Energizes Volleyball Outlook

Erika Riedel, Staff Writer

Even with the loss of last year’s MVP, boys’ varsity volleyball is looking forward to its upcoming season and are anxious to assess the impact of freshmen Ben Blakley, Jeremy Enriquez, and Justin Lineweaver.

“I think it’ll be a good season. We’ve got a lot of new freshmen coming who made the varsity team,” said senior Grant Larsen. “We want to see what they will bring to the table.”

The team is unsure of who its leaders will be or the direction the team is headed, but is optimistic nonetheless. “I like it. There’s a certain feel. Everybody seems to be getting along well, there’s not a high-stress level,” said coach Dave Chen of this season’s squad. “We are still trying to figure out what everybody is going to do, what everyone is going to play. But it seems like everybody understands what each other is capable of and are competing for that. I am excited to see what we can do and what we can produce.”

While the freshmen on the team are propitious, they will face pressure as they make the transition from club volleyball to high school volleyball. Chen looks forward to seeing how the freshmen adjust. “I would like [the freshmen] to not be overwhelmed by the moment, during the big matches, playing in front of or against their peers, playing around seniors,” he said. “Rise to the occasion because they’re not here because they’re freshman, but because we think their skill level can help us advance. That’s what I’m curious to see.”

Enriquez isn’t worried. “This new team is on a lower level than my club team. There are some good players, but then there are people on the lower side,” he said. “My club team was a lot more intense than the varsity team and I was also playing a different position. I am not nervous because I have a lot of potential to grow.”

The newcomers have already made an impression upon the veterans. “The freshman on varsity are already really talented. They have been playing club and they’ve worked really hard to get to this point,” said Larsen. “Dave is also a really good coach. He will fill them in and help them. They will definitely be playing a lot.”

The main challenge the team faces this season is the recent graduation of its libero/outside hitter, Gage Worsley, who is now playing volleyball for the University of Hawaii. “You are not going to find another Gage for a super long time,” said Larsen. “I think it’s going to be more a team effort than last year because last year it was really just Gage against 6 other people and every once in a while some other players would step up.”

With Worsley’s absence, Chen expects his team to be more balanced than in past years as they see what works and what doesn’t. “We just have a different look than before,” said Chen. “The makeup of the team is a lot different than it was the past couple of years. Which is obvious because each year people graduate, but this year is especially so. It has a different energy- it’s like everything is starting over this year.”

Despite the loss of its all star, the squad is more experienced than it was last season, according to Chen. “I think last year, there was a lot of people’s 1st year on varsity. At least getting that 1st year under your belt is really helpful, you are not getting as much used to the game as you are team building,” he said.

“I’m just looking forward to having fun,” added Larsen. “This is my last season. Senior year is almost done.  I just want to have some fun. Obviously, winning makes it more fun, but I just want to have a good time.”

“Our goal is always to try to make it to an NCS final and NorCal Finals. If we get there, it means we are doing something great,” said Chen. “We want to stay competitive no matter if we win or lose. We want to be in the finals and have a chance at the title, and that’s it.”

The team’s 1st league game is set for April 10 against College Park at home.