Boys volleyball dives into action


Kevin Zowaski

Members of the boys volleyball team practice for their games this season.

Everyone is there 15 minutes early to set up the nets. Official practice begins with drills that tend to focus on a specific aspect of the sport such as serve receiving, defense, and offense. Everything gets put together toward the end in a drill that improves team chemistry and overall matchplay. The day ends with a fun game of baseball. Boys volleyball has begun, and the team has their eyes set on the Conference and Sectional titles.

“At the beginning of the season, we all decided on a goal,” said sophomore Ryan Rhodes. “We wanted to win conference, we wanted to win a Quad, and we wanted to win Sectionals.”

The team plans to achieve these goals by drilling down on their weaknesses and gaining experience through tons and tons of matchplay with other schools. By doing so, they are improving team chemistry and bonding as a group, which is crucial for success.

“Our weaknesses are probably blocking and defense,” said junior Nathan Atwell. “We’re focusing drills in practice to really help ourselves with our weaknesses. We’ve just been doing a lot of different drills to help us get better as a team, and we’re just trying to come together as a group to really improve.”

The team has already bonded and gained important experience by playing some tough matches against schools with historically strong volleyball teams. They won one of their best matches against Lake Forest Academy and have had some close matches against very good schools such as Stevenson and Vernon Hills.

“We’ve already played all of our hardest teams,” Rhodes said.  “I loved it. Vernon Hills was a tough game. They’re number 3 in Illinois right now, and we put up a fight.”

The program has a current record of 7-11 and are going to rake in more wins by spending even more time with one another and getting to know each other on and off the court.

“We wanted to just come together as a team,” Rhodes said. “The way that we’re gonna do that is just by getting to know each other, spending time together, and playing as a team, not as single people.”

And as the season progresses, the team chemistry and energy improves. The team has demonstrated this progression through numerous matches, and they are hoping to keep the same momentum in their conference.

“It’s all about momentum,” Atwell said. “It’s a very fast-moving game, and it’s a lot different from the other sports and I really like it because the feeling of making a good play or getting a kill is better than anything.”

The team also looks forward to the future because for many varsity players it is their last season at Grayslake North. So developing JV players has become a major priority of the program.

“My goal is to prepare as many players to play on varsity as we possibly can,” said JV head coach Susan Feely. “We have 14 on our team, and I want to make sure they’re ready to play varsity next year.”

But for right now the main focus is winning conference. The current conference record is 2-1, and alongside the success the team has had against others schools, the team has a very good shot at taking the title.

“We really do have a shot at winning the conference this year,” said varsity head coach Nikki Kirchway. “In order to do that we have to just keep working hard. We have to keep staying healthy, focused and deliberate with the skill set we’re working on in practice, and also overcoming adversity.”

The team continues to grow and improve through every match they play. Their teamwork, chemistry, and relationships with one another gets stronger every point they play, and the stronger the bond, the better their chances of winning that conference championship.

“It is the quintessential team sport,” Kirchway said. “You have to rely on others to be successful in volleyball. You have to work together.”