Warriors learn on the job
Published 9:11 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2015
The Nansemond River High School boys’ volleyball team does not have a wealth of experience this year, but it is making steps in the right direction as the season progresses.
“I’ve seen improvement every week, every practice,” Warriors coach James Vann said.
His team, which was 1-4 entering its match on Tuesday, is again populated by upperclassmen who are relatively new to the sport.
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“It seems like it’s the same way every year,” Vann said, noting that to build a program, he needs more underclassmen whose skills he can help develop over the course of several years.
Nevertheless, he is in the process of teaching the technical aspects of volleyball to his players this season, followed by the tactical aspects of the game.
“They’re coming around,” he said. “You learn how to do the skill, and then you learn how to use it to your advantage.”
The 2015 Warriors consist of six seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and one freshman.
Key departures from last year’s team due to graduation include middle hitter Malcolm Nurse and outside hitter Zak McCarson.
They fueled the 2014 Warriors (8-12), which finished runners-up in the Ironclad Conference tournament and advanced in the postseason as far as the Group 4A South Region Eastern Section semifinals.
Senior outside hitter Keoni Broad is one of two important returners for Nansemond River this year.
“He’s our captain,” Vann said. “He’s taken on a big leadership role,” including being the team’s kill leader.
The other important returner is senior setter Davontrez Wallace.
“He gets to almost every ball,” Vann said. “It’s crazy the way he gets around the court.”
Sophomore middle hitter Max Widegreen is a foreign exchange student from Germany who stands at 6 feet, 4 inches.
“He’s got some skill, and he’s played in Europe,” Vann said.
The coach noted senior defensive specialist Gerald Anderson is working hard, diving, digging and jumping, and freshman Noah Maddrey is showing promise.
“He’s come a long way,” Vann said of Maddrey. “He learned a lot last year just practicing with us as an eighth-grader.”
Though the start of the 2015 season has been rough for the Warriors, their coach is expecting better results as his team moves away from its district schedule, which features teams from significantly larger Chesapeake schools.
“I think we’ll do OK when conference (schedule) starts,” he said.
Nansemond River’s new conference at the Virginia High School League’s Group 5A level is Conference 10, which also includes Bethel, Gloucester, Hampton, Kecoughtan, Menchville and Warwick high schools.
Nansemond River (1-4) hosted King’s Fork High School on Tuesday evening and visits Grassfield High School on Thursday.