Boys Volleyball Avenges 2006 Loss to Andover High School; Experience of Eight Returning Starters Provide Team Chemistry

Famous pairs such as Jordon and Pippen, Jagr and Lemiux, and Ramirez and Ortíz were able to dominate their sports and lead their teams to championship years. This year, on a high school scale, Andover presents another spectacular duo. Co-Captains Howie Kalter ’07 and Alex Schwartz ’07, both three-year starters for the Varsity Boys Volleyball team, have used their years together at PA to mature their relationship both on and off the court and develop unique chemistry. Kalter and Schwartz stand out as individuals because of their ability to perform as one player. This pair, added to the strong Andover lineup, gives both captains the confidence to look toward the championship title this year. Led by Kalter and Schwartz, the Boys Volleyball team started out on fire with a strong showing at a local tournament and a 3-0 win over Andover High School. The win for PA was especially sweet because AHS beat PA last year in a similar fashion. Although the scrimmage against AHS was early in the season, Kalter and Schwartz both swung back into the rhythm of last year’s impressive season quickly and dominated the game. Although neither played the entire match at their traditional roles of outside hitters, they accumulated the most kills—a combined 21. These kills are especially noteworthy considering how both players made most of them from the back row. It is considerably harder to obtain a high kill count from the back row because the distance from the net makes it harder to slam the ball without hitting it out of bounds. The eight returning players for PA quickly stole the lead from AHS without looking back. PA was able to test its experience and talent by rotating the players around the court, trying out new positions and strategies to optimize team play. PA worked all ten players onto the court, giving Brian Watson ’08 and Menelik Washington ’09, the new two new players on the team, some valuable game-time experience. Kalter said, “The new players really added a lot to our team. Their play in the middle provides a great rotation of big men to strengthen our defense. The added blocks and stuffs will really help our team in the upcoming games.” The 10-player rotation also allowed PA to try out some new combinations of positions. Although Peter Yao ’07 is traditionally the team’s setter, Alex Svec ’08 gained experience at this position. Yao ended the day with 20 assists while Svec tallied an additional six. Having an additional setter with experience is extremely important for PA; last year’s championship run was cut short due to a injury sustained by Yao in the post-season tournament. PA humbled AHS with precise serve-selection and accurate ball placement. In volleyball, the speed of the ball is not always the most important factor in a good serve. Ball placement, serve variety, and spin all play huge roles in creating the perfect serve. With great coaching by Clyfe Beckwith, the PA players had AHS on its toes all game, using everything from blazing jump serves to deceptive fore-spin serves. The challenging serves were too much for AHS to handle and added up to nine service aces for PA. The serving standout for PA was James McGuiness ’08, who served 16 for 18 with 5 aces. McGuiness’s success primarily came from his jump serve, which, when used at key moments, smoked the AHS defense and fell to ground for an uncontested ace. Next week, Andover looks to use the momentum gained against AHS to play Loomis Chaffee in its home opener.