By Phil Dailey
The Bishop’s School’s boys volleyball team made school history last week, capturing the team’s first Coastal League title. It marked only the second time in school history that the team had won their conference championship. The last time came in 2002 in the now-defunct Harbor League, which was made up of mostly public-school teams.
This year’s team may not be much different than some of the teams head coach Tod Maddox has had in the past, but they had the ability to put it all together when it mattered most.
“We kinda came together this year with these seniors who have been getting better every year,” said Maddox, who has coached the team on and off for the past 16 years.
Boys volleyball at Bishop’s isn’t like many of the other sports where the student-athletes play in the off-season with a club team, honing their skills for when the high school season begins. This group is comprised of several athletes who specialize in other sports, but still enjoy playing volleyball.
“We’ve always had a bunch of guys playing a bunch of different sports so it’s always been a little difficult in the beginning,” said Christian Lane, a senior who is one of the few players on the team who does not play any other sport at Bishop’s.
Among the eight seniors on the team’s roster, many of them will head to college in the fall to compete in a different sport. They include: Ryan Chong (basketball), J.P. Engh (water polo) and Tyler Evans (soccer).
“As always for our sport, it takes some time to be successful because we don’t really have any club players,” said senior Adam Wrobel, who will play water polo in college at George Washington. “Once we got into league (play) we really started to pull things together.”
Not only did the team pull it together this season, they are also the No. 3 seed heading into the Division IV CIF playoffs. The Knights will play in the quarterfinals in Saturday at 5 p.m. against the winner of Escondido Adventist or Valley Center.
Having many athletes on the team has been a boon, but also, it’s a group that has been playing the sport — thought not entirely dedicated — for some time.
“The majority of us started playing together back in seventh grade,” senior Alex Sammon said.
Coming into the season, the team had set some lofty goals, winning a CIF title would also be a first for the school.
“We were a little over-ambitious,” Sammon added. “We wanted the conference championship for sure, that was one of many things, but we really want a CIF title and we’re gonna start fighting for that this week.”
Standing in the way of that goal could be No. 2-seeded St. Augustine, a team the Knights could face in the semifinals with a win Saturday. If they are able to win that, it’s likely that powerhouse Francis Parker will be waiting for them in the final.
“The ultimate goal is to win a (CIF) championship,” Sammon said. But our first goal is to make it to the finals. In our opinion, we have the tools to be successful in a championship game, but our first goal is to make it there.”
If the Knights do, rest assured that they will do it with their loose and laid-back approach.
“This senior class is a pretty cool senior class,” said Maddox. “It’s just this mix of kids, the girls (volleyball team) is different, they play all year round and it’s real focused. These guys come in and they play for three months. They are playing because they are having fun. In that sense it’s kinda refreshing and it keeps that old-school flavor.”
It’s no wonder the team’s motto is short and simple: “Have fun and get the job done,” Wrobel said.