It’s Spring time! With all of our spring sports taking on preseason games and preparing for league competition, an all time favorite sport to watch is our Christian Brothers Men’s Volleyball team. However, this season has been off to a rocky start because of injuries and ineligible players. The team is hoping to have […]
It’s Spring time! With all of our spring sports taking on preseason games and preparing for league competition, an all time favorite sport to watch is our Christian Brothers Men’s Volleyball team. However, this season has been off to a rocky start because of injuries and ineligible players. The team is hoping to have a successful season, and they are preparing for the season of a lifetime. Head Coach Polo Lopez ’08 and some of the players have talked to the Talon about season aspirations and preparations in order to achieve their goals.
A contribution to the slow start of the season is Anthony Sweha’s (‘19) injury. Anthony is a senior team captain and a very skilled and experience player. Men’s Varsity Coach Polo explained that Anthony’s injury will have a large impact on the team.
“Anthony was my starting middle [blocker] — he has the most experience and he has a great attitude. He is always focused on what’s important for the team. Not having him on the physical court can definitely affect the energy,” Coach Polo says. “I have other middles that are filling the spot. We are training two right now, but there is a gap there in terms of energy”.
“Everything changed at that moment,” Anthony says of his injury. “I was told I probably tore my ACL, so before I knew it, that was the end of my season. It sucks because I love playing volleyball with my teammates.
Despite the loss of Anthony, the team is in the middle of hardcore preparation for their upcoming league matches. Coach Polo puts a lot of time and effort into the team’s practice schedule in order to improve on their skills.
“Practice drills are usually process-oriented. The process of how we are executing skills is more important than the result point-to-point,” Coach Polo says. “If we are able to do all the footwork right and all the blocking hand placement right or if we are able to serve the correct way, whether or not it goes to the right spot matters more because you are able to build off of the skill more”.
The El Camino Eagles are the Falcons long term rivals. The boys and Coach Polo are very eager for this rivalry match.
“El Camino has two D-I commits on their team. I am never the one to talk up a team very much — I usually try to pick them apart from a strategy standpoint because if you glorify a team too much specially before a game, then you go in that game already defeated,” the head coach says.
Christian Brothers plans to focus on their side of the court and work on everything they can control throughout this match.
“We need to focus on tough serves, placement defense, loading on the blocks, and stacking on the bigger guys. If we are all on the same page, six players is more than two,” says Coach Polo.
When it is time to dial in on game days, the boys have their pregame rituals to calm their nerves and prepare them to play as one cohesive unit.
“Our game day rituals are usually Taco Bell and a mental check in to really solidify that brotherhood that we have and stay supportive of our team whether we are doing excellent or not,” Coach Polo explained.
Three key players that have a large impact on the team as a whole are Sweha and fellow seniors Jack Milliken (‘19) and Ben Anin (‘19). These players are all team captains and contribute a lot of experience and skill to the game.
“They have a leadership role in terms of organizing the guys, making sure everyone gets the information from me or the schedule. They really are in charge of in game and in practice refocusing the group or keeping the goal-oriented vibe going because sometimes they get a little funky, jokes and stuff happen,” Coach Polo says. “They reel in the focus and they do a really good job of that”.
The team has experienced little mishaps throughout the season, causing Coach Polo to rearrange his starting line up. This can be difficult for a team, especially a couple of days before a match. However, with all of the experience Coach Polo has, he makes this transition as smooth as possible.
“My starting line up is forever changing — we have had some issues that have caused me to switch up the lineup and that’s part of my job to think on my feet,” he says.
Competition is high in terms of playing time this year. However, Coach Polo works in players that he sees best fit to contributing to the success of the match.
“I would say up until the six minutes before I write the line up. It’s pretty fluid, and I’m always working on getting my guys playing time where it benefits the team,” he says. “I have eight or nine pretty solid players in my head that are sort of a starting line up but that changes day to day,” he says.
The boys have had a successful season this far with an 8-6 record, having participated in several pregame scrimmages and competed against Monterey Trail, Sac High, Capital Christian, Rio Americano, Franklin, and El Camino.
“Monterey Trail is our best game because we played really well and put up good competition,” Jack says.
The team is shooting for a Capital Athletic League championship, Section Championship, and battle through NorCals.
“I think we can take at least second round playoffs if we are all on board and focus-oriented,” Coach Polo says. “The fire is within us. Right now we are a little scrambled, but I think we are totally capable of that.”
In order to accomplish these goals, the boys have one common aspect to keep them alive throughout the season.
“Communication is key and also making sure that our passes are solid,” Jack says.
Anthony’s injury has impacted many aspects of the Christian Brothers Men’s Volleyball season. This was an upsetting event for the players, Coach Polo, and Anthony. However, Anthony remains an amazing teammate by supporting the team and continuing to fulfill his role as team captain, even if he is not present on the court.
“It’s hard sitting out watching games where I should be playing but I’m still doing my best to contribute,” Anthony says. “My teammates have been super supportive, like surprising me in Davis to cheer me up. The most I can do is return the support and try to help my team win. Polo even bought me a clipboard to sort of ‘coach'”.
“It’s hard to sit out your senior year and watch others do what you could be doing,” Coach Polo says. “He already is showing his commitment is above and beyond and his heart is in it, but it is a deficit for the team to make up in terms of energy and positivity of the court without him. But he’s here on the bench yelling”.
The boys next home match is April 3rd against Rio Americano. Come out and support them as they compete against the toughest team in the league in their quest to win a league title.