Junior class fronting leadership roles for Gateway squad
Most teams rely on their senior class for leadership and direction.
But for a team without any 12th graders on its roster, the Gateway boys volleyball team will depend on its junior class to be the leaders this season.
Juniors Matt Davis and Rob English headline that class and return as the team's most experienced players from a team that went 2-10 in WPIAL Section 3-AAA last season.
“(They bring) a lot of leadership and a lot of direction to mold the team,” Gateway head coach Jay Wu said.
“We have to lead by example and just show them to go out there with intensity and teach them how to play the game right,” Davis said of the Gators' younger players.
Davis and English are joined by fellow juniors and first-year players Jasano Brooks and outside hitter Taylor Nemanic as the team's oldest players.
“He (Jasano) will bring a lot of height and power to the team,” Wu said.
Several sophomores will be required to step into starting roles this season including Joey Klonicki, setter Nate Cain and middle hitter Anthony Benvenuto.
They will attempt to try and fill some of the void left by last year's seven departing seniors, and the team is confident in their ability.
“They've got a lot of talent and skill,” Wu said. “There's plenty of room to grow.”
With the season still in its early stages, the Gators are still trying to gel together as a team and get some of their younger players accustomed to the speed of the varsity game.
“Right now, we're still working on our serving, improving our teamwork together, just getting used to each other because we haven't gelled together yet completely,” Davis said.
Gateway dropped its season opener to Section 3-AAA foe Latrobe, 3-0, but was still able to take some positives away from the defeat.
“They were a lot bigger than we were, they definitely had more height,” Davis said of Latrobe. “But we were able to block them very well considering their height and our height.”
So while they might be a bit under the radar for now, the young Gators are looking to continue to improve and hope to become a better team as the season progresses.
“If we keep improving every game and meeting our full potential, we can definitely be a threat,” Davis said.
Gateway fell to Penn-Trafford, 3-0, in section last week.
The Gators faced section rival Norwin on Tuesday in a game that was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition. They host Hempfield in section play Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.