Men’s Volleyball Set to Debut in January 2015
By Ryan Miller
The squeaking of sneakers is only broken by the heavy breathing of prospective players running “suicides” in College of Staten Island’s auxiliary gymnasium. The shrill sound of a whistle blows to signal the continuance of what may look like torture to the untrained eye, but CSI Men’s Volleyball Coach Juan Lopez sees success.
The dozen players who survived the exasperating tryouts will become the newest members of the CSI Athletics family come January, as Men’s Volleyball will debut as the fifteenth team in the college’s storied department. Lopez will take the helm of the men’s volleyball squad on their maiden voyage into the City University of New York Athletic Conference. With conference rivals already boasting experience, Lopez knows hard work will be the only way to keep competition close.
“It’s really all about discipline and work ethic on and off the court,” said Lopez. “If the team can stay in constant motion and communicate effectively, I believe that we can succeed.”
With a roster comprising of a mix of newcomers and holdovers from last year’s club team, Lopez will be the only one on the Dolphins’ sideline who is not a CUNYAC rookie this season. Formerly an assistant coach with CSI Women’s Volleyball team, he assumed the role of head coach of both squads at the college in the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year.
Lopez helped navigate the women to an 11-14 season, but hopes to find more success with the men.
Although the team is made up of players with varying levels of skill and experience, Lopez hopes to rely on co-captains and former New Dorp High School teammates Justin Edwardsen, Brian Sheydvasser and Philip Szumanski to shoulder the load.
Lopez will look towards the trio to bring something intangible to the side, a chemistry that’s both vital and unteachable.
“Having experience playing with those guys will definitely give our team a solid foundation,” said Szumanski. “We all have a different skill set, giving us some balance on the court.”
Szumanski will be deployed at the setter position, tasked with facilitating the team’s offense. Since the setter touches the ball nearly every possession, his teammates will be relying on him to be their catalyst.
Despite their smaller size, Edwardsen and Sheydvasser are both in fact killers. Edwardsen and Sheydvasser will lineup as middle and outside hitters respectively, while the team will look to turn Szumanski sets into points — or kills. The twosome will also be dependened on to lead the defensive effort; playing at the net will expose them to a barrage of enemy hits, its their job to block them.
Early November’s tryouts yielded more talent than just the three aforementioned. A strong supporting cast joins the trio and gives the Dolphins a surprising amount of depth for a team in its inaugural season.
“Volleyball is not an individual sport,” said Sheydvasser. “Every player is important to this team, and we need everyone to be on top of their game if we want to win.”
With a coach and team now officially established, preparation can begin for January 25th’s doubleheader opener away at Ramapo College. The Dolphins will face their first match and get divisional-foe CCNY later in the afternoon.
The Dolphins transitioned from having light practice three days a week to having more rigorous workouts every weekday on December 1. With a little under two months to become a fully cohesive unit, the players know how difficult it will be to develop what other teams in their conference have built over years.
“We know that we’re fighting a bit of an uphill battle here,” said Edwardsen. “Despite the disadvantage of only just becoming a team we’re still confident in our abilities and will be ready come January 25th.”