Boys volleyball adds to team feeling in Dysart district

Shadow Ridge senior Darius Moore prepares to hit an attack March 5 against Willow Canyon players, from left, Zeke Avila, Jason Debord and Bryson Plueger. [Courtesy Ryan C. McGinley and Dysart Unified School District/For West Valley Preps]

Richard Smith
West Valley Preps

The start of boys volleyball across the Dysart Unified School District could lead to some contending programs in the sport, given time.

For now the new sport is giving athletes one more chance to be part of a team.

“I’ve never played volleyball before. The reason I wanted to do it is because I saw it was super competitive.I play football so I like competing,”Dysart High School senior Adam Campbell said.

All four district schools started play this year and have played each other and more established programs.Shadow Ridge is 2-0 against district foes, squeaking by Dysart 3-2 and beating Willow Canyon 3-0.

Dysart beat Valley Vista 3-0, while Valley Vista and Willow Canyon square off this afternoon.

Shadow Ridge and Valley Vista will meet later in the spring in league play, as will Dysart and Willow Canyon.

“We measure ourselves based on who we’re going up against. In our district,it’s all new so it’s fun to play each other and have a good time,” Dysart junior Arthur Carter said.

Dysart High girls volleyball coach Richard Ebersole was able to start boys volleyball, once the school hired Pamella Gulczynski as beach volleyball coach.

“I was coaching beach volleyball and I found someone to take over beach,” Ebersole said. “I’m a little more knowledgeable about the indoor game. And I had worked to turn the girls program around so getting the opportunity to start a program at Dysart was appealing.”

He said about 30 boys tried out and he kept 11 on varsity and seven or eight for JV.

Often, boys basketball players make the transition to volleyball. But the Demons inaugural team features a lot of soccer players,more than basketball.

“The boys basketball program at Dysart is really strong and a lot of them are committed to that year round AAU circuit,” Ebersole said.

Sol Gonzalez, Alfredo Vega Urbina, Hassan Razzouki and Luis Cabrera Hernandez led the soccer brigade.

“There was like three or four soccer players that said they didn’t want to run track. I didn’t want to run track either. All the varsity play other sports and most of us knew each other,” Campbell said.

At Valley Vista, coach Nathan Lowell stated in an email that many of his 22 total players do not compete in another sport.

“I knew that in order for us to keep boys volleyball going in the community and at Valley Vista, I had to teach them the game and they had to want to learn it. I had to introduce this game to the boys and show them its not just a girl’s sport. I had to get them to keep wanting to play,” Lowell stated. “I was happy I got several boys that played other sports and wanted to learn the game. A lot of them didn’t come to off season training but took a chance and showed me they were curious in tryouts. There are a few seniors that have been waiting to play volleyball since freshman year. I was shocked to see all the new faces that came out and am happy I get to coach and teach them the game.”

The approach was more on the fly at Shadow Ridge. Coach Zachary Stenerson said he was named to the head coach position about a month before tryouts.

The Stallions had one open gym before tryouts and about 25 athletes came out. Then, 60 boys signed up to tryout and about 45 went through with tryouts. Now 27 remain – 15 JV and 12 varsity.

“The goal of our team is to maximize our potential. We believe that by controlling our attitude, effort and actions that we can maximize our potential. I think this makes our goals somewhat unique as we are emphasizing the process of athletic growth rather than being focused on results, like wins or playoffs,” Stenerson stated in an email. “Obviously we would like to be district champs (we play all the schools in district, Valley Vista twice) and have at least a .500 record, and I think these things are possible if we focus on our process goals.”

He stated that the Stallions have no club players, and that while many have backgrounds, some do not. The varsity is senior-heavy with four underclassmen.

At Dysart High, Carter is hoping this year is the start of a build to a competitive team in 2020. He’s one of four non-seniors on the varsity.

“If we try hard enough and work hard this year, we get the ball rolling. Next year, we’ll hopefully be at a better place to start the season,”Carter said.

More than anything, Ebersole wants his players to learn what makes volleyball a thrill.

“This year is really about developing their love for the game I was always basketball first and liked to play basketball. But once I started playing volleyball, and especially coaching it, it kind of took over,” Ebersole said. “It looks easy until you try it and they’re learning that.I’d like for them to fall in love with volleyball and win some games along the way. The win against Valley Vista was definitely helpful.”

Willow Canyon’s Tyler Martinez blocks a tip attempt by Jordan McBeath-Navarro of Shadow Ridge on March 5 at Shadow Ridge. [Courtesy Ryan C. McGinley and Dysart Unified School District/For West Valley Preps}

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