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Saint volleyball making strides under new coach

NORFOLK – When Michelle Bossick took over the head coaching job for Nansemond-Suffolk’s boys volleyball team this season, she was starting with almost literally a brand new team.

NSA’s has had a boys volleyball program for a long time compared to many private schools in Virginia as only a couple schools outside the Tidewater Conference have boys teams. While the Saints were not officially starting from scratch, NSA’s 2007 squad was nearly all seniors.

On Tuesday evening at Norfolk Collegiate, the Oaks dropped the Saints to 0-4 on the new season with a three-game win, 25-14, 25-18, 27-25.

“Since we started practice in mid-August, we’ve come a long way. Hopefully we’ll get to where we need to be for the conference games,” said Bossick, whose husband Brandon is the assistant coach on the Saint bench.

In the TCIS, the seven schools which play boys volleyball have their second meetings of the season count to the conference record, so that part of NSA’s schedule starts in early October.

Some of that progress was evident even within Tuesday night’s three games. The Oaks ran out to a lead of 13-3 in game one and kept a comfortable lead from there.

In game two, NSA played more consistently and keeping the ball in play was enough to keep the Saints close until a big Norfolk Collegiate run. The Oaks led 15-11 before six straight points gave Norfolk Collegiate a big lead.

In what turned out to be the final game of the night, the Saints challenged Norfolk Collegiate to the final point.

From down 13-7, NSA drew back to within two on a run which included Ray Ramirez, the one key returner from last year’s team, setting for kills by David McCracken and Josh George.

Ramirez is the leader of the team said Bossick, even though he’s a sophomore.

“He’s doing a great job, but we need other kids to step up,” said Bossick.

“For this point in the season though, everyone’s doing a great job.”

Late in game three, Norfolk Collegiate held a 23-18 lead and had played the last 20 or so points with its second string on the floor.

After an NSA side out, Sam Burgett served a couple successful points with Ramirez setting Bracey Parr and Gary Kafer for kills, bringing the Saints within 23-21 before an Oak side out.

NSA answered and fought off three match points. At 24-23 Norfolk Collegiate, the Oaks quickly subbed their starters back in.

The ensuing point was one of the longest rallies of the match and ended with Quint Butler blocking an Oak spike attempt straight up, Butler then set a pass which Kafer hit down for a kill. NSA gained the lead and a match point when McCracken got a block on the next point.

The Oaks got a kill, then back-to-back aces to stave off the need for a fourth game. Norfolk Collegiate finished with a 21-4 margin on aces.

For NSA, Ramirez had six assists and two kills. Kafer and Butler had three kills each.

NSA’s first four matches have been on the road. Friday’s home match against non-TCIS opponent Blue Ridge is the first of four straight home matches for the Saints.