Boys Varsity Volleyball makes history with six game win streak

Jude Herwitz and Suraj Khakee

The Boys Varsity Volleyball team finished their regular season on Wednesday with a win against Lycée Française de New York, and are heading into the Ivy League playoffs with a 7-5 record. The team rebounded from a rough start to the season where they lost four straight before going on a six game winning streak, the longest win streak in team history.

The poor beginning stemmed from a variety of factors mostly out of the team’s control, Head Coach Jason Torres said. The combination of an abnormally short preseason, a difficult schedule, and a sub-optimal rotation system led initial four losses, he said.

“Out of our first four games, three of them were against two teams that played in the state championship game last year. So clearly the competition level was high,” Torres said.

After the initial slump, changes in the starting line up and more frequent substitutions propelled the team, Torres said. The wins started coming once the team had more time to become comfortable playing as a unit.

Beyond mental and tactical strength, the team’s technical skills manifested themselves on the court, Evan Wu (12) said.

“Our hitting has been really been clicking this year but we still have to work on blocking and serving. Improving in those aspects can help us keep winning and hopefully have a good shot at states,” Wu said.

The starting six consists of exclusively of seniors which is unique for the team and will present challenges for next year, Eric Ohakam (12) said.

To give more game time to the underclassmen, the team had two Varsity-B matches, for those who do not normally start to have the opportunity to play, Ohakam said.

“This is my first year ever playing volleyball, so it’s been great to have them guide me and teach me the ins and outs of the game while also really welcoming me as a member of the team” Rowan Mally (9) said.  “Nyle Hutchinson (12) plays my position, so he has been extremely helpful in mentoring me and teaching me where I need to be on the court and what I need to do,” Mally said.

The seniors have also shown up and competed on the court. They are a huge reason for the team’s success, Griffin Klein (9) said.

“Captain Sam Benchimol (12) is a great captain. Stewart Hughes (12) and James Gluck (12) have been great for us as well,” Klein said. “They all know how to handle pressure and bring energy to both practice and games.”

The seniors have also kept the team much more competitive than in previous years, as Mally remembers some of his brother’s winless years in the sport, he said.

“Two years ago my brother was on the volleyball team and they won just one set the whole year. Now we have won six games in a row and we’re looking forward to a playoff run, we’ve really come a long way,” Mally said. “Coach Torres has done an incredible job guiding our team and morphing the volleyball program,” he said.

One of the reasons that the team has found a way to succeed is better chemistry, Benchimol said. The team really bands together during some of the big moments and important plays.

One example of this came last week in a close win against the Masters School, Benchimol said. “There was a long rally during which Park made two or three incredible digs to really kept us in it. We ended up winning that point, and we used the momentum from that play to win the first set. We would go on to win the game 3-2 in a close battle.”

The team looks forward to the beginning of states next week and the final stretch of Horace Mann Volleyball for the seniors, Benchimol said.

“This season definitely means more to me personally. I know this is going to be my last season playing for HM so I want to make sure that I did my best and that this team ends off on a positive note,” he said.