Men’s Volleyball’s Builds on Culture of Brotherhood for 2022 Season


Photo Credit: Mr. David Espinoza

Rene Almanza, OwlFeed Managing Sports Editor

As the spring season approaches with the sun being here past 7 p.m. and the flowers blooming for everyone to see, so is Agua Fria 2022 spring sports, with new stories being created and old stories being revitalized.

With my eyes being set on men’s volleyball, which as a sport presents a team effort not just on the court but even outside the court, where teammates are able to rely and strengthen themselves as individuals and players.

I spoke with two players on the men’s volleyball team, Kage Torres on the Varsity team and Chris Avita, one of the three captains on Varsity as well.

One of the many things that volleyball presents itself as is an entertaining atmosphere. The constant flow of play that goes on is nonstop, which is one of the many things that makes it unique from other programs.

Once you’re in the right headspace on the court, the team around you is able to feel that momentum which gives them a sense of the game.

“The energy we have allows us to lift up everyone in and out of the court,” Chris said. “Our environment is super positive, working to help each other out and constantly growing together as a team…a brotherhood in a way.”

Kage added, “Culture is also a main driving force. Everyone knows each other, everyone in and outside of school, we all hang around together, we all share a passion for volleyball. We’re all just really close.”

This year is going to be a bit different as Coach Lisa Petruzziello was hired as the new head coach of the program, replacing Coach Ken Fox, who ran the program since 2016 before accepting a job as an athletic director.

Applying a new face in the coaching position can be difficult for both players and coaches, as Coach Fox was able to make sure his players were giving it their all on the court, so to lose a mentor on the team can be an adjustment for everyone.

With Coach Petruzziello adding a new structure and culture to the team it allowed her to build on what was missing. “Coach P really had some big shoes to fill, but she took on that position and made it her own,” Chris said. “[She’s] super dedicated to helping us and the program, and she was the best person to take on that position. I don’t know what we would do without her.”

Last year the JV volleyball team went undefeated, a huge accomplishment that takes talent, skill and, above all else, the drive to keep moving forward no matter the obstacle in front of them.

To be able to not only repeat the success of last year with the Varsity team being 13-7 and JV having an undefeated season of 18-0, but to go beyond to the playoffs is just one of the many things this team is trying to accomplish.

“We really utilize the offseason to get new players and old players into the gym, going back to the basics on techniques and skills in order to really improve and keep that going,” Chris said.

Dedication when it comes to facing adversity is one of the many traits this team holds dearly, Kage responded, “We lost 10 seniors last year, that’s basically the entire roster, so to go to a JV level program now starting on varsity are pretty big shoes, so we’re determined to go out and play volleyball.”

When it comes to all sports that take commitment and strategy to overcome any odds, every team needs a leader on the court to have a decisive plan from start to finish.

The mentality that rests on your shoulders to be great and those around you will follow, radiating this type of energy allowing everyone on the team to not fail themselves and everyone else. 

As Chris is one of the three team captains he expressed these notions. “What really makes a captain is how the team looks at you,” he said. “It’s important to have that leadership and attitude.”

He added: “[It] doesn’t depend on your skill, rather your character, staying positive and not giving up on your team, not being the one that looks down as they see that it will affect my team as well. 

Chris also acknowledged his fellow captains, senior Everett Clark and senior Maciej Mularski.

“They’re also great captains that take on the leadership role and I wouldn’t be able to be the captain that I am without them,” Chris said.

In my time with both individuals, I was able to comprehend one thing about the program and its success. Rather than dwell on the past they tend to focus on the now more than anything else — to present themselves as athletes of a greater caliber to prove anyone that doubted them wrong.

“We’re going…take every game day-by-day and not overlook our opponent and make sure we play the best that we can and hopefully have a good season,” Chris said.