Boys Volleyball Expected to Improve

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Coach Mark Larsen

With a plethora of new faces, the Malibu High School boys volleyball team is expecting some growing pains this season. 

Sharks head coach Mark Larsen believes his squad will develop quickly though.

“Most of my boys have never touched a volleyball before or played in an organized team game before today,” said Larsen after the Sharks’ opening season loss to the Grace Brethren Lancers on March 5. “Athletically, these kids are amazing, so I think we are going to be a really strong team as the season goes on.”

First-year volleyball player and freshman Henry Katleman, 15, echoed his coach’s statement.

“We have to work our butts off,” he said 

Heading into Thursday evening’s home contest against Fillmore High, the Sharks will have five players returning from the 2014 team. Additionally, they will have a handful of new players that are more used to making plays on the athletic field with their feet rather than their hands.

Katleman and sophomores Kaden Andrews, Liam Noonan and Nikolas Engheben are also on the MHS boys soccer team. 

Andrews, 15, who sat out the entire soccer season with a broken ankle, said the soccer players came together to play volleyball after he mentioned in passing that he was going to transition from the pitch to the volleyball court

“We all just did it,” he said. “We have a great time playing together.” 

Andrews said soccer skills, such as agility and knowledge of how to work within the framework of a team, should help the players transition to volleyball. 

The 16-year-old Engheben said they will need some guidance from returning volleyball players. 

“They have been helping us out by giving us tips,” he said. “We are going to train to get better and better.” 

Larsen said he expects returning varsity volleyball players to be leaders.

“They have been good leaders at practice, so they should be a good asset as the season goes along,” said Larsen, who is in his first season as the Sharks coach. 

The Lancers beat the Sharks 3-0 by match scores of 25-16, 25-11 and 25-6. In each of the matches, the Sharks were plagued with miscues and teaching moments for Larsen, including misalignments when receiving a serve and miscommunications on offense. 

Early in the second match, Malibu gave Grace Brethren two points on unfortunate errors. While Malibu was leading 1-0, one Shark spiked a ball over the Lancers’ defense, but while doing so, his body hit the net. That tied the game. Then, with Grace Brethren up 3-1, another Shark powered the ball through the Lancers’ defense, but came in contact with the net. Grace Brethren’s lead ballooned to 11-3 before the Sharks got in rhythm.

Larsen said, heading into the match against the Lancers, he expected the Sharks to have some misfires on the court. 

“Today was their first experience with rotations, first experience with, ‘Where am I supposed to be during one rotation?’” he said. “I expected them to be not sure of what they were doing and kind of uncertain on where to move, which is going to make them cautious. They are learning a lot.” 

Engheben said the players were unsure of what to do on the court at sometimes. 

“We are going to get way better,” he said. “If we don’t have the rotations down, the other team gets a point and today [the Lancers] got a few points off of that.”

Engheben said the Sharks are expecting a championship this season.

“We are going to train every day,” he said. “Get our heads in the game and get the Ws.”