Trailblazers of the Volleyball Rally


Photo of the 2022-2023 LHA Boys’ Volleyball Team.

Julian Leal, Writer/Editor

Langston Hughes Academy’s first-ever boys’ volleyball season ended with a match against Benjamin Holt Academy this Thursday. They finished with an overall 4-6 win rate and 2-6 league win rate, finishing 3rd in the 2022-2023 Mountain Valley League.

Coach Justin Walton and assistant coaches Natalie Pascual-Fuentes, Chloe O’Meany-Lucas, Thombelyn Washington, Shane Razon and Alexandra Mitchell guided the varsity team through this unfamiliar sport. The latter majority had years of experience playing for LHA’s girls’ volleyball and club teams, bringing their expertise into the spring season. They cheered from the sidelines just as much as they coached, making up for the lack of cheerleaders with their passion.

As with any varsity sport, the season began with conditioning. Prospective players ran miles, practiced hitting and receiving drills and scrimmaged in early February. They covered the fundamentals of volleyball and team communication before trying out for the team later in the month.

About 30 Titans attended tryouts despite the typical 12-player team size. This stage consisted of the same routines as conditioning: run drills, rest, repeat: but with the coaches now using an analytical lens. Tryouts lasted a week, and 16 players were selected for the varsity team. The team consisted of four freshmen, one sophomore, eight juniors, and three seniors.

Volleyball practice began a few days after this selection. Every day, the team started by setting up the net, warming up, and running drills. After separating into small groups, they rotated between stations led by the coaches, each covering a volleyball fundamental: digging, setting, and spiking.

Practice ended with scrimmages strengthening existing and experimenting new team rotations. The players employed the new skills they’d learned that day in fun, yet equally competitive, matches. They’d then take down the net, discuss what could be improved on, and acknowledge an athlete who did particularly well that day.

These Titans had about a week of practice before their first match; an away game against Vanguard Academy in Modesto. The team did their best on such short notice, but they ultimately lost with zero sets to their opponent’s three.

Despite this rough start, the boys’ volleyball team continued to train rigorously, preparing for upcoming semiweekly matches. They’d learn how to safely dive for short balls, fine-tune their serves and do whatever it takes to keep the ball alive.

LHA’s boys’ volleyball team would achieve mixed wins and losses throughout the 2022-2023 season.

The boys’ volleyball team didn’t make it to playoffs this year, but that shouldn’t undermine the extreme dedication, skill, and unparalleled resilience they displayed in LHA’s very first season of this sport.

LHA’s first boys’ varsity volleyball team will serve as a remarkable precedent for those who’ll play after the 2022-2023 season. They made history as athletes among Titans, stepping up as future trailblazers of the volleyball rally.

Photo of the team’s seniors: Julian Leal, Leo Xiong, and Diego Chihuaque (pictured left to right): on senior night.