NSA squad brings new outlook to new season

Published 8:02 pm Wednesday, September 2, 2009

For opening the boys volleyball season with a loss, Nansemond-Suffolk’s coaches and players were clearly optimistic on Tuesday evening.

The Saints improved to a three-win season last fall, but more than that and more than moral victories are expected this season and a four-set loss to defending Tidewater Conference champions Greenbrier Christian, 23-25, 25-18, 25-14, 25-19, only provided encouragement to that belief.

In the opening set of the new season, the Saints scraped and played good, fundamental volleyball to surprise the Gators. NSA hung close with Greenbrier Christian in two of the next three sets, but the talent from the Gators eventually won out. Tuesday’s contest was a non-conference one; NSA and GC meet again on Oct. 29.

The evening showed the Saints themselves what they can do throughout the season. For starters, NSA had just over a week of practices before Tuesday’s match.

“All we can do is just get better as the season goes along,” said C.J. White, who played varsity football last season for the Saints. Although White is one of the shorter Saints on the volleyball team, his athleticism and reactions still meant he was one of NSA’s best players at the net on Tuesday and he led the Saints in aces.

NSA is led by junior setter Ray Ramirez, who’s entering his fourth season with the Saints and third season as the team’s main setter. Ramirez was happy about taking a set against the defending conference champs, but expects more as the team works together more.

“We expect big things to happen. We think the conference has another team to look out for. We’ll be a tough team to beat as we get better,” said Ramirez.

Early on in Tuesday’s match, the Saints had success with good defense and limiting their unforced errors. NSA forced Greenbrier Christian into well-executed sets and spikes in order to take points and, at least for some stretches of the contest, Greenbrier’s errors outnumbered their kills.

The opening set woke the Gators up, but even in set two, Greenbrier held a 19-18 lead before closing the set out with six straight points. In set four, three straight NSA points made it 17-15 GC before the Gators regained control to finish the match.

Wesley Edwards led NSA in kills and Dan Wilson led the Saints in digs.

“We have a lot more athletic ability,” said Ramirez.

“And we want to win, not just be out here,” said White.

“In the past, this was just sort of a fun team to be on,” said Ramirez. “Now, we’re out there to win, not just be the funniest team in the conference.”

NSA (0-1, 0-0) hosts Cape Henry in a non-conference match on Tuesday at 5 p.m.