BY MATTHEW MANGAM
The boys’ volleyball team has started off the season strongly with a 9-2 record and an early-season tournament win. The hot start has them on pace to achieve their goals of repeating as GMC and State Champions.
The Knights squad defeated rival East Brunswick in its season opener and emerged victorious on Senior Night against J.P. Stevens. The team also went on a seven-game win streak that ended on April 12 against St. Joseph Metuchen. “We are playing very well as a team,” said Head Coach Andrew Hopman.
The team took first place in the Livingston Tournament on April 9, beating Hillsborough in the semifinals and Livingston in the finals. Several players performed well which led to the team’s success, including David Flores, Robert Obdyke, Evan Jazmin, and Pavlo Chernyshov. “The team played well while fighting the things that were thrown at us. We were able to stick through every game and show strength,” said Chernyshov.
With five returning seniors, leadership is not an issue for the Knights. “Senior leadership is vital to help the team improve and grow,” said Obdyke. “As Seniors, the underclassmen look up to us with everything. If us seniors do what is right and set a good example, it will translate to the rest of the program, leading to more success.”
Flores, who leads the team with 247 assists, thinks the connection between the teammates is very solid. “We always try to go out and do stuff outside of school which helps build our chemistry. I believe my assists have been very crucial to our victories. My assists are always one more point and that makes it easier for us to get to 25 points quicker,” said Flores.
Jazmin, who has contributed 62 digs, said the chemistry has been a big factor in the team’s success. “We work hard on our communication skills and putting our best effort out on the court.”
Coach Hopman wants the team to stay focused and not let the early success go to their heads. “We are always working on things that we can control such as our mental toughness, precision, timing, and skill. Our goals are to stay passionate about the process and avoid obsessing over the outcome,” said Hopman.
The team still has a long way to go in the season, but a fourth straight GMC and State Championship is possible for the Knights. “We like to take everything one day at a time,” said Obdyke. “Right now, getting better and improving our skills is our goal. We do not like to look into the future. But if we do what we need to do, we love our chances at winning the GMCs and States.”
The team takes to the court again at home on Saturday, April 16 at 10:00 am in a quad meet.
Posted on 4/14/22
Photos by Gaby Master