Exeter boys' volleyball team will be young, but with experience

Photo by Aimee Herbert Ryan Santos is an outside hitter who is one of many returning juniors of this year's Exeter boys' volleyball team.

Although it doesn’t sound right, it’s true. The Exeter High School boys’ volleyball team has just one senior starter on the roster, yet it’s a very experienced team. That’s because last year there was a large contingent of sophomores who received a significant amount of playing time at the varsity level.

Though it was a very, very young team last year, they still tied for first place in Division 1 with Wilson. Each had 11-3 records.

In fact, they made it all the way to the county championship game where they lost to Wilson, 3-1. So not only did the young team get varsity experience under their belts, they got championship match experience.

They will bring that back this year in an attempt not only to get back to the championship match, but to to win it. After that, a trip to the state tournament would be a realistic goal for this team.

“I believe this will be a very good season for this team,” said Head Coach Shawn Ganter. “Most starters last season were sophomores and the time they logged in the battles of good matches has really propelled them into this season at full speed.”

Corbin Keller (outside hitter) will lead the team as the only senior returning starter. According to his coach, he’s a “wrecking ball of a hitter with power to burn. He has become a weapon all over the court and is really beginning to mature into a smart player in all six rotations. He has a passion to play hard.”

Among the top returners from the junior class will be libero Troy Huntzinger. Coach Ganter said that he could possibly be the best defensive player to come through the ranks of Exeter volleyball. Consider the Exeter boys’ volleyball program, that’s saying a lot.

“He has great ability to read offenses and be in position long before the ball is hit, making it look as if he is reading hitters minds,” said Coach Ganter. “His speed and quickness and willingness to commit to keep the ball off the floor at all costs is unmatched by anyone I have seen in that role.”

Ryan Santos is an outside hitter who is improving his defensive game every day. “He has become a scary hitter who can attack from anywhere on the court and has the size to back it up,” said Ganter.

Nick Birch is a junior setter who does the kind of things on the court not everybody in the stands notices. He does those things very well.

“He’s really beginning to develop control of directing the offense and has become an efficiant forward thinker in directing the team on the court,” said Ganter. “He has gained confidence in his role and has begun to make strides of his own with bettering his defense, both on the floor and at the net.”

There are things to worry about for this team. Yes, they have a lot of experience coming back, but they will also have some guys who don’t have a lot of varsity minutes who will have to learn how to play as a team.

“We have many new players entering the starting rotation and they all have the tools and athletic abilities, but need to gel with the vets and find that comfort level,” said Coach Ganter. “The players must develop their roles and own those positions.”

The key will be for the more experienced players to stay calm at tough points in a game and keep the younger players calm as well. That’s not an easy thing when the team is as young as this one.

As far as Coach Ganter is concerned, the key will be that his players understand the game.

“The key will be knowing what is called for in the right situations and being able to execute in those times,” said Ganter. “Keeping their heads down the road and understanding what it takes to get there. I expect that this team will control those moments and make their own path this season and will not settle for less.”