Boys volleyball looks to rebound after loss of many seniors

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Perhaps no other team at Malibu High School suffered a heavier loss of their starting lineup than the boys varsity volleyball team. The team lost five seniors from last year’s squad and one junior to the high school musical this season. That leaves two returning players for the Sharks and a large amount of new talent.

The Sharks, however, have started the preleague portion of their season strong, as they are currently 3-1 after recording wins against Cate, Hueneme and Carpinteria. Their only loss this season came in a 3-1 contest against Channel Islands.

Leading the team this season is one of the returning players from last year’s squad, junior co-captain Parker Smith. Smith, a starter on varsity since his freshman year, is co-captain of the squad and currently leads all volleyball players in the state of California with 27 serving aces.

The other returning player who will be important to the Sharks’ success this season is senior co-captain David Gonzalez, who currently leads the team in opponents’ return of serve errors.

“It’s a different role for me than in years past,” Smith said. “I’m used to all of these seniors around me and helping me. This year, being a captain, it’s all about preparing my team for the situations that I was in when I was in my freshman and sophomore years. I have way more responsibilities, but for me leading a team like this is easier with the help of David Gonzalez, and I just have to lead by example.”

The Sharks will look to do better in the Tri-Valley League this season after placing third last season. The Sharks’ main competition this season will come from Oak Park and Oaks Christian, the number one and two teams from last season. Last year, Oak Park went 10-0 in league and Oaks Christian went 8-2.

In addition to losing last year’s seniors Hunter Parr, Chandler Abbott, Ben Apstein, Ben Rotman and Jake Smith, the Sharks also lost current senior Staffan Edenholm, who is the male lead in this year’s musical. The team’s new players include Joey Gray, Marvin Alvarado, Kfier Cohen, John Carlo Garcia and Chris Papavassiliou, a freshman who was named player of the week on March 6. With so many new players and personalities on the team, the Sharks have had to change their game plans from last year and the way in which they go about winning games.

“We have had to rebuild our roster, and essentially find a new way to win, because we are not the same team,” Smith said. “This year we have found that wins are not going to come if we play conventional and conservative, we have to outwork the opponent and fight to win every point of every game.”

While there is a great deal of turnover in terms of players this season, one main component of the team still remains. Head Coach Carlos Gray, who is also the head coach of the girls team, has been at the helm of the boys team for the past couple of years.

“Our expectations are to win each match we play, no matter who, what, or where, and with the wins, come a league banner and contention in CIF,” Smith said.

The Sharks ended the preleague portion this week with a game against Channel Islands on Tuesday. The boys will then face their first test against Nordhoff on March 22. Last season, the Sharks beat Nordhoff in a 3-0 contest and look to start off league on a high note. The Sharks will then face off against Oaks Christian and Oak Park in their next two games.