Photo by Diane Cox
Alton senior Zach Meyer goes for a spike while two Edwardsville defenders attempt a block on April 16 at Lucco-Jackson Gymnasium in Edwardsville. This is the first year of varsity competition for the Redbirds.
The Alton Redbirds have accepted the challenge of adding a new spring sport for male student-athletes for the 2015 season. Boys’ volleyball is in its second season at AHS but the inaugural year of varsity action.
“Getting a team started like this is a struggle,” AHS boys’ volleyball coach Daniel Campbell said. “Not to say I wasn’t up for the challenge with these guys, but it’s difficult to start a new program. These guys have the potential; we’re at the point of fine tuning while going against teams like Edwardsville, who have players that have been in the sport since sixth or seventh grade. That puts them a huge step ahead of us.”
The learning curve is one challenge, while building a team with depth is another.
“Having the numbers on our team has been a big battle for us,” senior Zach Meyer said. “Every other team we’re facing has probably double the number of players we do, so that’s pretty rough and makes it hard starting off. We have a lot of sophomores and freshmen on the team. We’re all walking through the halls, grabbing kids and asking them to come play volleyball.”
Learning a new sport has been fun for AHS students, but taxing as they learn while playing against more experienced teams.
“A lot of us are only in our second year playing; for some it’s their first,” senior Rocky Alderman said. “All these other teams have kids that have been playing a lot longer than that. We’re just playing catch-up at this point. We really started with a leg back on everyone else.”
While volleyball has been seen as more of a girl-dominated sport in the past, the boys are taking to their new role on the hardwood with a lot more respect for the game.
“It’s a lot harder than it looked when the girls were playing,” Meyer said. “It’s a lot of fun and I really love playing. I played baseball my whole life and that’s such a slower-paced game. There’s a lot of opportunities to show your skill in volleyball. I like killing the ball, that’s probably my favorite part. It’s really a good time.”
Moving forward with a team that is having to get up to speed in a hands-on environment, the Redbird coach is already thinking of ways to build the program for future generations.
“We are raw right now,” Campbell said. “We’re still trying to get those basic fundamentals down and trying to progress, but we’re improving. Every time we step on the court, we get better. Toward the end of this season, I believe we’ll have a different program with the experience they’re gaining. I’m hoping we will be able to get a camp going during the offseason or get something going at the middle school to help get the program built up.”
The Redbirds had a couple matches this week, with a Tuesday Southwestern Conference showdown in Granite City which they lost 25-23, 25-27, 25-15. They played host to Metro East Lutheran on Thursday following press time. Alton’s next game is at 5:45 p.m. April 28 playing host to SWC foe Belleville West.
At press time AHS had an overall record of 1-7 and an 0-5 mark in league action.
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