Kevin Wolf expected to have some senior leadership on this year’s West York volleyball team. He was hoping the experience would help the Bulldogs improve off their 2-10 overall record from last season, but when three seniors and one junior opted not to play this year, the volleyball team found itself back at square one.
“We kind of hoped some of those guys would come back," Wolf said. "We’d have some senior leadership, some experience, and we’re kind of back where we started last year.”
So instead of coming in with a veteran roster, the Bulldogs have assembled a much younger, inexperienced squad. Only three players on the team own more than one year of experience playing volleyball.
“Most of them just picked it up this year or maybe a little bit last year,” Wolf said. “We’re definitely young and you can see for most of these guys this is not their primary sport. They’re great athletes in other sports, so they tend to pick stuff up.”
Despite the odd circumstances at the start of the year, West York has earned two wins through their first seven games.
Through the first few games and in practice, the focus has been to work on the fundamentals and on the team’s rotations. It makes having returning players like Jacob May that much more crucial for this season.
May is one of the three Bulldogs to have played more than one year of volleyball and as a junior with no seniors on the team, May said he has to step up his game. Part of that includes taking a bigger leadership role on the team and helping to teach the younger members of the squad.
“(I do) a lot of coaching the new players when we’re just working on our passing," May said. "Just trying to get their form down and just stuff like that. Mentoring them, trying to get them to figure out the basics and just let it go from there.”
Volleyball at West York has had its ups and downs over the last few years. The Bulldogs have made two district playoff appearances since 2010, but Wolf said he's struggled to retain players who have opted to focus on other sports.
“You have to try to make it fun so that the kids want to play,” he said. “I can’t afford to keep losing seniors that should be here and leave for other sports or other obligations. … To build a program you have to have kids that want to play. That’s what I’m struggling with right now.”
For now, the Bulldogs will keep focusing on getting better for this season. May said he has been surprised by how well the team has “gelled” through the early half of the year.
“We’ve done a lot better than I actually expected we would have,” he said. “We just need work on our hitting. Our passing and setting has been good.”