Two years since he last played competitive volleyball for Andover, Andover Volleyball Co-Captain Xavier Smith ’22 is ready to start a season of interscholastic competition, this time as an Upper and as a leader on the team.
“It’s super exciting to finally have a season again. It’s pretty crazy for me to think back on my time here and realize that I was only a [Junior] the last time I played competitive volleyball. We have a really exciting team this year. [We have] tons of potential and a good amount of experience [and that] adds up to wins. Things will be a little different this year, but I know it will be a fun experience for both players and spectators,” said Smith.
According to Smith, he is motivated to lead the team by his older brother, a former captain on the team.
“The title of captain means a lot to me. My older brother was the captain about a decade ago now and I’m on my way to one-upping him. My family has always been competitive and that’s something that drives me,” said Smith.
With his ample experience, Smith hopes to set an example for his younger teammates, developing camaraderie and strong volleyball fundamentals.
Smith said, “The role of captain obviously comes with a lot of responsibility. Since I am one of the more experienced players on the team, I hope to be someone the younger players can lean on––other than our coaches, of course.”
Smith’s ability and experience are testified by Head Coach Alex Svec; according to Svec, Smith is able to make things that seem impossible a reality.
“Xavier ‘Xtraterrestrial’ Smith: Half-human, half-alien, 100 percent machine. Normally a ball needs to be set above the net for a player to get a kill. After learning how to hit a ‘zero’ (the lowest set ball in volleyball) his Junior year, Xavier has been perfecting the ‘negative-one,’ where he is able to get a kill on a ball set below the net. Some say he warps the space-time continuum to be able to do so. [Phillips Exeter Academy] has placed a formal complaint alleging that Xavier’s hits are in violation of fair-play, but until they get their hands on some kryptonite it’s going to be rough sailing for them,” wrote Svec in an email to The Phillipian.
According to Co-Captain Jerry Shu ’21, Smith exemplifies the qualities Svec looks for in a leader.
“He has got that mentality to chase after every ball, he has a killer instinct on the court, and he leads by example,” said Shu.
Svec’s decision to award the title of captain to four players instead of the traditional two is a testament to the captains’ commitment during what has been a challenging past year.
“Normally, volleyball only has two captains. In honor of [Colin McNamara-Bordewick ’21], Jerry, Xavier, and [Caleb Blackburn-Johnson ’22] all being three-year varsity players, losing their entire season last year, and remaining relentlessly committed to [the team], we have elected to have all four serve as captains this season,” wrote Svec.