Photo by Caleb Motsinger
Skylar Agles and Brad Leonard soar during the inaugural boys volleyball game against Belleville West Thursday at Alton High.
Alton junior Rocky Alderman served up the Redbirds volleyball program’s first ace in school history Thursday against the Belleville West Maroons.
The Redbirds’ inaugural boys volleyball game at Alton High wasn’t pretty, with Belleville West defeating Alton 25-11, 24-26, 25-17 in the first match, but this year’s team will make school history regardless.
“Skill-wise, transition-wise, knowledge of the game they (West) definitely had more skill and more experience,” Alton assistant coach Stacey Ferguson said. “But as far as going out there and representing in our very first match ever, I think we did a nice job; it’s a learning process for the entire Alton program.”
Boys volleyball was first sanctioned by the Southwestern Conference in 2009. The Redbirds are the seventh school in the conference to add boys volleyball, with Collinsville now the only school in the SWC not to do so. But this season, Alton will compete only at the junior varsity level, with plans to join varsity competition in 2015.
Redbirds head coach Daniel Campbell came into the program with only one season of high school volleyball coaching experience under his belt. Campbell was an assistant girls coach at Carrollton in 2008, but for now, Ferguson is running the show.
“This is my first time coaching boys, so there are a lot of firsts for this season’s team,” she said. “We have a lot of work to do, but Coach Campbell and I look to get the program on its feet.”
Ferguson is coming off her fifth season as Redbirds girls volleyball coach; however, the school district prohibits being a head coach in two sports.
This is Ferguson’s first season coaching boys, but she said she enjoyed Thursday’s opener.
“It was kind of cute to see how nervous they were, actually — boys are so tough,” Ferguson said. “But I tried to keep it positive and help them out along the way.”
There are 24 boys on this season’s roster, with six seniors in Eli Taul, Nathanial Schuyler, Zachary Shaw, Impingo Hardmon, Christopher Braun and Triston Eaton.
And with 13 juniors destined to be back next year for the Redbirds’ first varsity season, Alton’s initial season may be just what the program needs to begin a successful story for the boys volleyball team.