Boys' volleyball team making a name for itself

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Thu., Apr. 28, 2011
Jason George and Sam Turek jump to block the shot by Simon Luxenburg. Photos by Martha Marteney.
Jason George and Sam Turek jump to block the shot by Simon Luxenburg. Photos by Martha Marteney.

After a four-year hiatus, coach Jim Holt is once again coaching the South Windsor High School boys’ volleyball team.  He is pleased that the number of athletes in the program has increased, but acknowledged that it is difficult at times to coach both the varsity and the junior varsity teams by himself. He noted, however, that there is a very small skill gap between the varsity and junior varsity players, which enables both teams to practice together.

Last year, the team qualified for the state tournament, ending the season 8 and 10.  “I’m looking to improve on that this year,” said Holt.  The team lost only a couple seniors to graduation, with many returning team players.  Holt has been working with the players to learn his system and to practice basic passing drills. The team is off to a good start this season, having won four of the five early-season matches. 

The two seniors, Kyle Waters and Ben Zandonella, are also the team’s co-captains, both of whom Holt described as strong players.  Holt also mentioned junior Jason George, saying, “He’s a strong, outside hitter.” Holt is hoping the program will keep growing.  “I’m looking to grow and have more numbers next year,” he explained.  “They come in and work hard.  And we have fun.”

Senior co-captain Kyle Waters is an outside hitter, and wears the number 24.  This is his third year on the team.  Boys’ volleyball was a club until 2004, when it became a team program.  When he was a sophomore, there were only 19 boys on the team, so the players started to recruit. With a lot of underclassmen on the team, Waters noted, “It means there’s a lot of opportunity, but also a lack of experience.”

Being on the team, Waters learned that there is a lot more to the rotation of the players on the court than in a backyard game of volleyball.  The team members must work together in order to have the best opportunities for scoring.  As for recruiting new players, Waters said, “It helps if you’re tall and can jump.” He added, though, that shorter players are key to defense because “it’s hard for tall people to get low to the floor.”

Senior co-captain Ben Zandonella joined the team three years ago, following in the footsteps of his three older brothers.  He is a center block, and wears number 22. “We have a young team,” said Zandonella, at the same time noting that some of the juniors have been with the team for three years, so that there is a strong base of experience from which to draw.  “We’re making a name for ourselves.”

Zandonella acknowledged that there is always a different atmosphere with a new coach.  He said coach Holt counts on the team to learn on their own, once he has shown them the drill.  “Our team chemistry is very high,” said Zandonella. “We keep pushing ourselves within the group.” As captain, he encourages the players to put in the effort, but also works to keep morale up. 


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