Look­ing to go fur­ther

Grace Chris­tian boys volleyball seek­ing ti­tle

Maryland Independent - - Looking To Go Further - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

Fol­low­ing a sea­son in which they went 7-7 and were upended in the semi­fi­nals of the In­de­pen­dent Schools Volleyball League tour­na­ment, the Grace Chris­tian Academy boys volleyball team re­turns all but one starter for the 2017 sea­son.

Grace Chris­tian (1-0, 1-0 ISVBL) shook off a slow start to up­end Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School of Mont­gomery County in straight sets in its March 21 sea­son opener. The Knights, who were slated to face Paul VI (Va.) on Tuesday night, are sched­uled to re­turn to ac­tion at home ver­sus Don Bosco Cristo Rey of Mont­gomery County on Fri­day.

Grace grad­u­ated only one starter, Kyle Davis, and the coaches and play­ers are op­ti­mistic the squad can re­turn to the ISVBL ti­tle round, hav­ing won it in 2013 and then been the run­ner-up the fol­low­ing year.

“We only grad­u­ated Kyle, who was a big part of our team,” said Grace coach and alum Nate Schultz. “Even this year we’re still re­ally young, with only two se­niors, three ju­niors, three sopho­mores and one fresh­man. We’re re­ally just hop­ing to have more wins than last sea­son and see if we can get at least one round fur­ther in the [ISVBL] play­offs.”

Nei­ther of the Knights’ two se­niors were avail­able for the sea­son open­ing sweep at Jewish Day, with libero Sammy Gar­cia com­mit­ted to a school play through last week­end, while se­nior David Jones is aca­dem­i­cally in­el­i­gi­ble un­til next month. In their ab­sence, ju­nior out­side hit­ter Cameron Sat­terth­waite, ju­nior mid­dle hit­ter Isa­iah Sat­terth­waite, ju­nior right-side player Zachary Wit­tlinger and sopho­mores Noah Jones, Ad­di­son Saun­ders and Brady Tip­pett will all gain valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence. Libero Robert Twine is the lone fresh­man on the squad.

“We know we’re go­ing to get Sammy back once the play ends and we’re hop­ing to get David el­i­gi­ble next month,” Schultz said. “Our younger guys are go­ing to get a lot of play­ing time. They’re go­ing to learn quickly and be­come more ag­gres­sive on hits. De­fen­sively, we have guys that can cover the floor and pass. Now we have to de­velop into more ag­gres­sive play.”

Cameron Sat­terth­waite and Jones both viewed the sea­son with cau­tious op­ti­mism and both al­ready hd a trio of teams in mind they were ea­ger to face this spring — Paul VI, Melvin J. Ber­man He­brew Academy of Mont­gomery County and Spencerville Academy of Mont­gomery County. All three of those teams de­feated Grace twice last spring, so both Jones and Sat­terth­waite ad­mit­ted the mea­sur­ing stick for the Knights would come against those teams.

“We only grad­u­ated one player, so I think we’re go­ing to im­prove this sea­son,” said Jones, who plans to fol­low in the foot­steps of his fa­ther and four older broth­ers and en­roll in a mil­i­tary ser­vice af­ter high school, prefer­ably the Marines. “We’re still young. We only have two se­niors on the ros­ter and only one of them can play this month. We’re look­ing for­ward to play­ing Paul VI, Spencerville and He­brew Academy. All of those teams beat us last year.”

“We def­i­nitely want to beat Paul VI, Spencerville and He­brew Academy,” said Sat­terth­waite, a mem­ber of the Grace boys bas­ket­ball team that ended the win­ter slate by cap­tur­ing the Mid-East­ern Re­gional Chris­tian Schools Tour­na­ment cham­pi­onships ear­lier this month. “We want to go fur­ther than we did last year. We made it to the semi­fi­nals and lost to He­brew Academy. So, we would like to be able to come back this year and beat them.”

Grace started slowly in its sea­son opener against Jewish Day but won 2521, 25-15 and 25-18. For Schultz, it was an early in­di­ca­tion of how far the team has come since the first week of prac­tices.

“We didn’t play that well early in the match,” Schultz said. “But then once we fig­ured out what they were try­ing to do and what we needed to do, it was com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Af­ter that first set, we played much, much bet­ter. Usu­ally us and Jewish Day are fairly even, so I was glad to see us start off by sweep­ing them. Maybe we can move up a few spots in the stand­ings and get a higher seed for the play­offs.” Twit­ter: tblack­somds1

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Grace Chris­tian Academy boys volleyball re­turns all but one starter for the 2017 sea­son as it seeks an In­de­pen­dent Schools Volleyball League ti­tle.

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