Returning from a distinguished season of 19-1, the Boys Volleyball team looks to match its success from the previous year.

“Last season was pretty much a coach’s dream,” reflected Head Coach Daniel Jurkowski. “I don’t know if you can ask for much better than 19-1 and winning the home State’s game.” He continued, “The boys were just awesome. They loved volleyball. They loved being with each other. It was just the perfect team. So, they set the bar extremely high; I’m not sure if we can ever get to that level, again, but that’s the goal going forward. The goal is to be that team, every single season.”

"The goal is to be that team, every single season."

Daniel Jurkowski

Jurkowski maintains high hopes for the upcoming season, expressing that he’s “very excited,” but “it’s also going to be very different.”

Last year, there were four Greater Boston League (GBL) all-stars, Kingston Chen, Yoji Yonetani, Jason Ong, and Cyril Jeremie, who Jurkowski described as “rocks in the program” and “a core group of seniors who had carried the program for the last several years.” He expressed feeling slightly nervous, as he’s not yet sure “how the pieces are going to fit together,” but remained optimistic. With a number of players returning from last year, Jurkowski believes “we have a solid foundation… it’s just going to be interesting to see who steps up.”

Kevin Lin, one of those returning players, is playing for the Golden Tornados for the last time. “Playing varsity my second year I believe that I can still try to improve,” the outside hitter commented. Lin says he was fortunate enough to learn from a lot of the seniors last year, remarking that “It’s weird going into it and we’re the ones [who] are seniors.” Still, he looks forward to it, hoping to build better connections with his teammates and teach younger teammates what he’s learned.

Regarding his goals, he stated, “I think for the season, I just want to win,” echoing Jurkowski’s thoughts. “We had a lot of wins last year and many seniors. The seniors have now graduated and now it is up to me and the other fellow seniors to fill their shoes and to pick up where they left off.” Lin strives to do this—to step up, have fun this spring, and make it “a season that we will remember forever.”

The captains this year are seniors Eric Mei, their other outside hitter, and Kyle Lee, the team’s libero. Jurkowski confessed that choosing captains is a duty he takes on “seriously.”

 “Kyle has been part of the program for several years,” said Jurkowski. Lee began playing the sport in eighth grade at Salemwood, making this his fifth year. “So he knows everything - how we run practice, he knows what the expectations are.” He explained, “So, he’s earned the right to be captain with his experience, his leadership, and also, it helps that he’s a really good volleyball player too.”

Boys Volleyball Graphic. JESSICA LI

“And Eric, same thing,” Jurkowski continued. Eric became part of the varsity team as a sophomore, so this is his third year in the program. “Both Eric and Kyle, they kind of know how we run things and… they can run it without me being here. They know what to do. So, expectations are high for both of them to be leaders.”

Jurkowski voiced that one of the challenges stepping into that leadership position is being more vocal, because the new captains “didn’t have to do that last year… So, it’s going to be interesting to see how they fulfill those responsibilities, like leading and being vocal, but I have faith in both of them and they’re gonna do a great job.”

Mei described feeling “very honored” that he can lead his team to a GBL title. Elaborating on his hopes for the season, he reiterated Jurkowski and Lin’s goals, “to make it as far as we can in the season.” “Even though we lost our seniors from last year and our best players, I believe we still have the potential to be a really good team. As Coach Dan says, we just need to find the right pieces.”

Victor DeSouza, another returning player, is a junior and the team’s middle hitter. Overall, DeSouza thinks the team is “showing that we’re gonna have a really good season” and he’s excited to resume playing with the team again. “I think that the team still is bringing a competitive level of intensity to practice, and I am happy with what I’m seeing,” he continued. DeSouza’s goal is to consistently play at the highest level of intensity as possible, and “play as much and win as much as we can!”

Lin reinforced the same thought of being excited to play with the team again. “I love the team. It is like a second family to me. I believe we have a lot of shoes to fill in from last year but I believe we could be a really, really good team this year as long as we keep practicing hard and work together.”

And indeed, as sophomore Edward Mei expressed, “everyone’s trying hard.”

“I think [the boys] realize too that we have to put in a lot of work,” Lin concluded.

With their first game approaching Monday, April 3rd at the Finn Gym against Everett, the Malden Boys Volleyball team is determined to have yet another phenomenal season.

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