Last season, the Los Gatos High boys volleyball team got off to a strong start only to fade to the finish. This year, the Wildcats are looking to stay healthy and peak as the season progresses.
“One of the big things we’re paying attention to early is managing our work load,” coach Brynja Thompson said. “It’s really important for the guys who are high flying, high hitting and diving all over the place. If the same players are taking those impacts too often, then we’ll end up like last year.”
Though the Wildcats don’t have a sparkling record—they entered the week at 3-5 overall and 2-3 in league—it’s a bit misleading in that they’ve played some of the premier squads in the Central Coast Section.
That includes perennial playoff participants Bellarmine and Branham in a beefed up non-league schedule that includes Mitty on March 21 and additional powerhouse teams in an upcoming tournament. With the addition of a couple of schools for boys volleyball this season, the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League has three divisions for the first time in history: the traditional De Anza and El Camino along with the lowest of the three-tier division, the Foothill.
Los Gatos is in the El Camino this season with Fremont, Los Altos, Palo Alto, Saratoga and the King’s Academy, with Los Altos at 4-0 the odds-on favorite to win the league championship.
After that, however, a handful of teams including Los Gatos could challenge for second and third place.
The Wildcats won back-to-back five-set matches over Lynbrook and Palo Alto last week, which came after a five-game loss to Fremont. Incredibly, Los Gatos went the distance in five of its first seven matches. It also had four-set losses to Branham and Bellarmine.
“We try to schedule hard, especially early in the season so we can work on anything that might be of weakness in pressure situations,” Thompson said. “And by golly teams have been giving it to us which is exactly what you want. We’re learning from our matches and going to be really good from them.”
Senior Alex Olcott possesses a well-rounded skill set and is the team’s most potent attacker.
“Teams that allow him to touch the ball have the wrong game plan,” Thompson said. “Alex is just a fantastic all-around player.”
Sophomore Weston Kaefer also has been an impact player as an outside hitter.
“Weston is a Steady Eddy type player [who gets the job done],” Thompson said.
The team has an entire new set of middle blockers including 6-foot-5 freshman Nolan Harr and juniors Andres Goyes and Casey Colston.
“Andres is fun to watch and he’s flying around,” Thompson said. “Nolan will be spending a lot of time along the net. He’s a seasoned volleyball player and is on a high level club team.”
Los Gatos has mostly used a 5-1 offense with setter Devyn Nguyen, whose older brother, Kyle, was a two-year starting setter before Devyn. The youngest Nguyen, Riley, is a freshman and the starting setter for the junior varsity team.
“It’s a great story,” Thompson said. “Kyle and Devyn have been fantastic for us and Riley will slide up in the big role as well in the coming years.”
Senior Devon Krish and junior Seth Greenland lead the back row and will be key in the team’s run for a top-three league finish.
“The two of them are flying around in the back row,” Thompson said. “Devon is one of the most well-rounded athletes that has ever gone through our program. Team captain, genius in the classroom, one of the best teammates one can ever ask for and he’ll be holding down the fort in our back line. And Seth’s serve-receive and defense has been phenomenal so we’re happy he’s on the team.”
Thompson can’t wait to see how the team improves with each passing week.
“Very excited to see where this team develops and where they go,” she said. “They’ve got a lot of talent and we can do a whole lot in the next six weeks.”