Written by Joseph Barrett
- ECGulls.com Contributor
BEVERLY, Mass. – The Endicott men's volleyball team finds themselves standing at No. 10 in the latest AVCA rankings courtesy of a versatile attack and relentless defensive pressure. However, seventh-year year head coach George Chapell '08 and the Gulls' student-athletes also preach how team bonding and chemistry have translated to success on the hardwood.
The Gulls currently sit at 3-2 on the young season, headlined most recently by a thrilling victory over No. 4 Kean. A multitude of student-athletes have showcased their skills on the court as three student-athletes on the roster have recorded 40 or more kills, while three student-athletes have also racked up at least 25 digs on the defensive side of things.
The Gulls may call Massachusetts home, but oddly enough there are zero student-athletes on the active roster who reside from the Bay State. That being said, there were lots of enticing factors and similar interests between the student-athletes that played a big part in luring the group to Endicott.
Academics, of course, play a pivotal role in a college decision and this was no different for the team. The highly-regarded internship program at Endicott was a major attraction to the student-athletes and seemed like the perfect start in reaching their career goals. Several members of the roster also partake in the same major so some student-athletes are familiar with one another in the classroom as well as on the court. Some of the more popular majors on the team consist of sport management, business management, and athletic training.
It's safe to say the beautiful campus was also a major factor in the student-athletes' decisions as the classrooms are surrounded by multiple beaches and a colorful interior. Senior Ryan Healy (Fair Lawn, N.J.) can even recall his first tour at the school as well as the moment he knew he'd call Endicott home.
"When I came here on my tour it was 75 and sunny... so obviously that was a nice little perk about it," said Healy. "When I came for the overnight, I just really got along with the guys and didn't see myself going anywhere else."
Another factor that brings the team together on a daily basis is, of course, the competitive nature and resilience of the group. The team often looks for ways to improve their game and with the amount of time the student-athletes spend together, everyone benefits from varying play styles and habits.
"For me, it's like a classroom, we just pick each other's brain... kind of just feed off each other's feedback," said senior Jacob Newman (Chester, N.H.).
If there is one common trend in every great sports team, it's that the locker room is a healthy environment and that everyone enjoys each other's company. An offseason or an extended period of time doesn't stop the team from communicating and catching up off of the court. Despite the team being spread out across the country – which includes areas such as Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Illinois, and California – the group always finds a way to stay in touch.
"We're always pretty active in group chats and stuff like that, always just seeing what everyone's up to," said senior middle blocker Seth Braquet (Destrehan, La.).
The team building and time spent with one another is certainly apparent in the team's performance. The Gulls have climbed higher in each of the three regular season polls that have been released, currently sitting at No. 10. The praise and recognition are certainly flattering, but the team is fully aware that the same consistency must continue to be present throughout the season.
This includes junior Donovan Dey (Fairport, N.Y.) who has suited up in many big games for the Green and Blue in his career. Dey is fully aware of the obstacles that can arise throughout the season and knows to not get too high or too low after a game.
"The teams above us, we don't think for a second that we don't stand a chance against that team. If a team is a lower rank than us, we don't take that team as something that we're just going to roll over," said Dey.
After a 2-2 start to open the season and on the heels of a two-game skid, the Gulls responded with skill, not sorrow. After a 3-1 loss at the hands of No. 2 Stevens, the team regrouped and earned an impressive win over the Cougars of Kean later that day. The key factor in the victory that any head coach would love to see is, of course, the ability to respond from adversity.
"They took the experiences they learned in that match [against No. 2 Stevens] and they turned it around to knock off No. 4 on their home court," said Chapell. "The guys are working really hard in practice and they've got a good mentality."
The Gulls aim to carry that same momentum with them for the duration of the season and continue to climb the leaderboards. The team will prepare to defend home court on Friday, February 15 with a starting time of 6:00 PM.
(Photo Credit - David Le '10)