Boys Volleyball Remains Undefeated After Scrimmage Against Central Catholic

Caleb Blackburn-Johnson ’22 leaps into the air to spike the ball.

In just its third game of the season, Andover Boys Volleyball has started to find cohesion as Henry Zhao’s ’23 serves in the first set spurred the team onto another 3-0 win in a scrimmage against Central Catholic. Andover’s record now stands at 3-0, having lost no sets thus far in the season.

According to Zhao, Matt Murphy’s ’22 gritty performance by the net has earned him the nickname “Kick the Net Matt.”

“The first set we did really well and everyone performed, and I think especially ‘Kick the Net Matt,’ which is [his] nickname because he kicks the net and gets away with it a lot. He did really well today and not just in the first set, but in the other sets as well, where he consistently bounced the balls,” said Zhao.

According to Will Suh ’24, the team played much more cohesively in the Central Catholic game than in Saturday’s game against Choate, which Suh described as “disorganized.”

Suh said, “Saturday’s game… was pretty good, but there’s a lot to work on. I think we were very disorganized, but today was much better and I think that’s why we played better as well.”

Logan Suryamega ’23 concurred. According to Suryamega, the team made progress since Saturday’s game and reached its potential against Central Catholic, especially in the first set. 

“I think we’ve had really big improvements from Saturday’s game, especially in the first set of today’s game. We were playing incredibly well and [were] like the team that we could be. We’re focusing on getting to that point where we can be like that consistently,” said Suryamega.

According to Suryamega, the first set of the Central Catholic game turned out to be crucial for Andover’s victory. The set allowed the team to maintain a flow for the rest of the game.

“I think the very start [was the key point in today’s game], we started off really strong and it kind of set the tone for the rest of the game,” said Suryamega.

Despite the team’s drop in performance in the second and third sets, they still managed to pull through with a wide range of player contributions. According to Suh, Co-Captain J.X. Smith ’22 played well in the game.

“Not only was he setting well, he had very nice offensive plays where he took matters into his own hands and he kind of hit the ball over. He did ‘setter dumps’ and all that really helped,” said Suh.

Although the team initially struggled with chemistry due to varying levels of experience, Suh believes a combination of experienced and inexperienced players on the team has pushed the team forward in this department.

“What’s most improved is probably team chemistry… I think we, especially the new players, understand the game better, like rotations. Just smart plays here and there are important and in practice we use skirmish lines. That’s what helps us build chemistry and game knowledge,” said Suh.

Zhao believes that Suryamega and Nico von Eckartsberg ’23 are the key players to grasping a strong defense. In addition to the two, Zhao complimented two of the team’s seniors for their similar skills.

“Right now, [von Eckartsberg] and [Suryamega] are really good. They’re more of our defensive players and Nico is our libero. Today he did really well with getting the middle hits. In general, the more experienced players are also really good at these things, like [Alex] Mitchell [’22] and Caleb [Blackburn-Johnson ’22],” said Zhao.

Before a game against the team’s biggest rival, Exeter, next Wednesday, Zhao emphasized a major goal for them: to keep their serves consistent. Alongside improving the team’s serves, Zhao hopes to strengthen their defensive game.

“The next game will get better overall and our services can get better and in general just be more consistent with our serves. I think today I was pretty good in the first set with my serves, but then later on I think I cooled down and then just missed a bunch, but that’s that. I think defense is still more of our weakness compared to offense, but I hope in the future all of our middles and outside can get it in,” said Zhao.

Andover will be hosted by Exeter next Wednesday as they look to stretch their record to 4-0.

Editor’s Note: Henry Zhao ’23 is a Copy Editor for The Phillipian