Placing 10th out of 12 teams at the OE Freshman volleyball invite, the Wolves finished with a record of 2-3 on Sunday. Competition was very strong this year, with plenty of teams holding a height advantage over the undersized Wolves squad.
The OE Freshman Invite is always a huge staple of the freshman boys’ volleyball team. The tournament brings some of the best teams from around the region to face off in a battle for the top spot on the bracket.
Setter and right side hitter Janu Claud Inventor said that one of the biggest challenges of the day was the mental aspect of seeing teams with bigger players.
“We were definitely nervous seeing how tall other teams were, especially compared to our players,” Claud Inventor said. “A lot of these teams could hit right over our blocks.”
Another hardship the team faced was a result of inexperience. The Wolves are a team of many first-time players, which can make fundamental execution a struggle at times. Outside hitter Colin Mitchell said that a lack of talk on the court contributed to problems on the court at times.
“One of our biggest issues as a team is communication,” Mitchell said. “Not talking and letting easy balls drop cost us a lot of points.”
Despite the setbacks, however, the Wolves still managed to pull through and win a couple of hard-fought matches. The scrappy, gritty style of play the team has adopted played a huge part in keeping them close in matches.
“When we’re on our game, we’re a very scrappy team,” Mitchell said. “We do a great job of laying our bodies out and keeping plays alive.”
Overall, the tournament showed great improvement out of the freshmen. The team has gradually found itself rising above expectations. Head Coach Alexia May said that the freshman Wolves have shown exceptional growth, though she still feels they have the ability to raise to a higher standard.
“I feel like our growth from the beginning of the season until now has shown a lot,” May said. “We still have our ups and downs in games with communication, but this team is pretty promising right now.”
As the season rolls on for the Wolves, the recurring theme is confidence.
“We just need to not be afraid to hit a ball and stop being scared of messing up,” Mitchell said. “Mistakes are going to happen. We can’t be afraid to make them.”
The Wolves will face off away against the Hinsdale South Hornets Monday.
Payton McCullum is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl