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Catching up on boys volleyball

Jared Greenspan, R2 Sports Editor

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When the Westfield BOE approved the creation of a WHS boys varsity volleyball team this past November, many wondered how exactly the transition from club sport to varsity staple would transpire. With the team’s inaugural season now in full swing, it is safe to say that the development has been a success.

“We’re really starting to hit our stride now,” Coach Jay Cook said of his team. “Now that we’ve had a full team for the last couple of weeks, we’re starting to play really well together.”

While Cook’s team is slated to enter the county tournament as the seventh seed out of eight schools, the players insist that there is more to their record than meets the eye. For one, the team has become more confident in its overall ability to compete at the varsity level.

“At the beginning of the season, we thought we were going to get destroyed by some of the taller teams,” senior Cory Billings said. “But now, every time we lose it’s only by a couple of points, which only proves that we can handle every team in the county.”

Sophomore Elijah Soh further noted that all of the games this season have been far more competitive than last year’s, when the squad was competing against other schools’ JV opponents. According to Soh, every player is more focused and driven to improve at the varsity level.

Beyond developing a winning mentality, the players have fostered a strong community during their first varsity season. These close relationships have created an upbeat culture within the program; Soh described it as one in which everyone “truly likes to be around each other and play together on the court.”

Sophomore Liam Jackson agreed with Soh’s stance. “Gradually we’re starting to perform better, and I think that can be attributed to the fact that we’re more comfortable playing with each other,” Jackson said. “At first, no one really knew anyone, but we’ve bonded to a point where we’re all friends.”

On the court, adjusting to the increased speed and skill levels on varsity is no easy task. However, Cook says that the team has not only embraced the challenge, but also handled it with relative ease.

“Working at practice, we’ve improved a little bit with various skills of the game each day to the point where we’re a better team now,” Cook said. “Everyone has really improved their communication and wherewithal of understanding the game.”

These vast improvements were on display specifically during a road game last month at Union, the second-best team in the county. In what Cook referred to as “the high point of the season,” Westfield pulled out a resounding two-sets-to-none victory.

Moving forward, Jackson knows that the team will only continue to grow together and get better on and off the court. “We’re dedicated, willing to put in the time to improve, and we want to do well,” he said. “We aim to improve the team not just for this year, but to improve the program for later years as well.”

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