Summer has come to an end and everyone is gearing up for boys club season.
Well, not in New York, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
These states start high school season in the fall. After season is completed in November the athletes will go play club from December to July.
As long as five years ago it was rare to see an athlete from New York (there were some, of course, including USA star Matt Anderson from Buffalo), Virginia or Wisconsin land on a top-level NCAA team, but that is changing.
New York runs high school volleyball like no other state. There is a group of schools that play in the fall and some programs play in the spring. The fall season should be competitive.
On the western side of the state Orchard Park, East Aurora, St. Joeseph’s, and Frontier are the contenders.
In the east the top teams are Shenendehowa, Bethlehem, and Columbia. In Division 2, Burnt Hills has been dominating for years and is favored.
Western New York top teams
1. Orchard Park
2. East Aurora
3. St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute
4. Frontier High School
5. Clarence High School
6. West Seneca West High School
7. Canisius High School
8. Grand Island High School
9. Eden High School
10. Hamburg High School
2022 WNY final standings
1. East Aurora
2. Orchard Park
4. Grand Island
6. St. Joseph’s
8. West Seneca East
10. Williamsville East
Top players in Western New York
1. Evan Hernadez, S/OPP, Orchard Park
2. Mikey Bleech, OH, Frontier
3. Drew Bowman, S, Orchard Park
4. Brady Bowman, OH, Orchard Park
5. Ben Walczak, OPP, Clarence
6. Matt Anzalone, OH, St. Joseph’s
7. Jonas Drum, MB, Hamburg
8. Ethan Skalski, OH, West Seneca East
9. Nate Roorbach, S, East Aurora
10. Joe Veal, MB, Sweet Home
11. Josh Rauch, L/OH, Orchard Park
Western New York analysis
Orchard Park is the three-time defending ECIC and Class A Sectional champs. After losing Matt Zion (all WNY/All State player), the Quakers will turn to a large group of experienced seniors to keep their championship streak alive.
Keep a close eye on East Aurora. Coming off a Section VI Class B championship, they will look to continue their hold on the top WNY ranking.
Frontier is coached by Nick Penberthy and his Falcons will be led by senior outside hitter Mikey Bleech, who is surrounded by a core of young talented players.
Clarence is expected to contend with Frontier and Orchard Park for both the ECIC Division title; as well as the Class A sectional title. They have an excellent young squad, led by senior Ben Walczak.
Coach Mark Anzalone’s squad at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute has been close to taking the parochial school championship (Monsignor Martin League) for the past few years, trying to overtake Canisius High School. This may be the year when the Marauders finally beat their crosstown Catholic school rival. The team will be led by the son of the coach, Matt Anzalone, who is their primary passer and attacker.
Eastern New York top teams
3. Burnt Hills
2022 ENY finishes
Division I (large school)
1. Shenendehowa (state champions)
2. Bethlehem (lost in 5 in Section II finals)
3. Columbia (lost in 4 to Bethlehem in semis)
4. Saratoga Springs (swept by Shenendehowa in semis)
Division II (small school)
1. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake
2. Christian Brothers Academy
Due to size qualifications, these two teams always meet in Division II finals; Burt Hills has been crowned champion every year. CBA has boys’ volleyball since the 2019 season.
Top high school players in Eastern NY
1. Cade Allen, OH, Bethlehem
2. Nick Bocketti, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake
3. Evan Devine, MB, Shenendehowa
4. Jackson Gray, MB/OPP, Bethlehem
5. Cody Gladding, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake
6. Anthony Guetti, OPP/S, Shenendehowa
7. Peter Krackeler, OH, Saratoga
8. Brendan Kurimsky, OH, Columbia
9. Adrian Lopez, L, Bethlehem
10. Anthony McLaighlin, OPP/MB, Columbia
11. Braeden Mochrie, S, Shenendehowa
12. Joe Monserrat, S, Bethlehem
13. Luke Saubier, MB, Bethlehem
14. Ben Sorrentino, S, Bethlehem
15. Ethan Solomon, Guilderland
16. Ryan Spain, Niskayuna
17. Johnny Uzzilia, S, Guilderland
18. Bennett Wilson, OH, Shenendehowa
New York boys volleyball history
Boys volleyball in the Rochester area had its birth in the 1970s with a “Metro League” started by Penfield, Spencerport, McQuaid, and a few other area high schools. Section V Championships began in the late 1970s, followed by Monroe County starting its own league in 1984 as a winter sport, but moved to the fall by the end of that decade.
New York State began championships between four sections (Long Island, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo) in the 1980s. In 2010, New York State formalized an official state tournament date inviting winners from four regional sites to compete in a round-robin and elimination tournament.
Two state championships are up for grabs.
There will be more than 40 teams in Classes 5 and 6 that will be chasing a Class 6 state title. There are 26 programs from the Eastern part of the state competing for a Class 4 championship.
The majority of the 2022 first- or second-team All-Tidewater recipients have graduated, so there will be many opportunities for new individuals and teams.
Kellam, which has no seniors, and Ocean Lakes are two of the top teams competing for a state title.
Kellam is led by juniors Bennett Barco, Joel Eanes, Kyle Duong, Austin Makovec and Conor Sledge. Eanes has been invited to some NTDP camps and is recognized as one of the top players in the state.
“Our state has a ton of committed athletes that have a strong desire to grow the game. Every year more guys are playing,” Eanes said. “The 2023 season should be exciting with a good amount of teams competing for a state title.”
Ocean Lakes, 21-3 last year, is led by setter Donovan Velazquez, opposite Vicent Yi and outside Barrett Scharfe. Indian River, Granby and First Colonial could all be in the mix.
Many of the high school athletes play club.
“With a ton of graduating talent in 2022, particularly in Class 5A, the path to a VHSL state championship appears to be as wide open as it has been in a long time,” said Coastal boys club director David Arnette, who has a keen interest in the high school season. “There will be a lot of great battles this season as new impact players break onto the scene and teams full of new starters learn to work together.
“It will be fun to see which of the top 10-15 teams separate themselves from the pack and make the State tournament.”
There are 70 boys teams in Virgina, but only from schools around Hampton Roads and Richmond. The western part of the state does not sanction it, nor does northern Virginia, although that area has supporters (https://www.novaboysvb.org/case).
Top teams in Virginia
2. Ocean Lakes
3. Indian River
5. First Colonial
6. Cape Henry
9. Western Branch
10. Great Bridge
12. Princess Anne
13. Norfolk Christian
2022 All-State Returners
Joel Eanes (Kellam, Hampton Roads, 2nd Team 5A)
Ajaye Davis (King’s Fork, Hampton Roads, 2nd Team 4A)
Duke Flanagan (Patrick Henry, Richmond, 1st Team 4A)
Ci Gading (Churchland, Hampton Roads, 2nd Team 4A)
Wesley Graves (Thomas Dale, Richmond, 1st Team 5A)
Davian Hugh (Great Bridge, Hampton Roads, 1st Team 4A)
Jason Matthews (Patrick Henry, Richmond, 1st Team 4A)
Stephen Matthews (Patrick Henry, Richmond, 1st Team 4A)
Robbie Seifert (Hanover, Richmond, 2nd Team 4A)
Other top players
AJ Angeles, S, Granby
Keegan Anuar, OH, Maury
Nathan Amos, OH, Hickory
CJ Coleman, OH, Norfolk Christian
Charlie Cooper, S, Great Bridge
Nate Duff, L, First Colonial
Joel Eanes, OPP, Kellam
Zach Hamilton, OH, Cox
Juelz Knight, OH, Norfolk Christian
Maciej Majcherczyk, OH, Princess Anne
Zach Mendoza, L, Maury
Ryan Pecora, M, Kempsville
Holden Pentecost, OH, First Colonial
Daniel Smith, OH, Granby
Brady Spicer, OPP, Cox
Owen Summers, OH, First Colonial
AJ Todl, OPP, Cape Henry.
Donovan Velazquez, S, Ocean Lakes.
Elijah Woods, OH, Hickory.
Class 5A State Tournament
Champion, Glen Allen
Runner-up, James River
Semifinalist, Deep Run
Semifinalist, Thomas Dale
Quarterfinalist, Indian River
Quarterfinalist, First Colonial
Class 4A State Tournament
Champion, Patrick Henry
Runner-up, Maggie Walker
Quarterfinalist, Great Bridge
Quarterfinalist, King’s Fork
Wisconsin club volleyball programs have had a lot of success at recent national tournaments. That includes Milwaukee Sting and Milwaukee Volleyball Club, who have won medals at the national level and done a good job of preparing players for their high school seasons.
At the USA All-Star tournament, the Badger Region Boys won the 2022 gold medal. The 2023 Boys U19 team finished in fourth place and finished with the most sets played out of any team in the tournament. The boys’ U17 team finished in sixth place and was one set win away from making it to the four-team gold bracket. The Badger Region athletes play for eight different high school teams, so the talent is spread out.
JW Kieckhefer of Carthage College also coaches at Milwaukee Volleyball Club.
“Boys volleyball is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and that is also the case here in Wisconsin,” Kieckhefer said. “We have some exciting talent throughout the state and across all classes from freshmen to seniors. The depth of talent and drive of our student-athletes will create competitive matches every night.
“I am excited to continue to watch the progress of these young men and proud of the strides Wisconsin has made in our sport.”
Wisconsin boasts 65 programs at the varsity level this season and 12 are a “co-op” between multiple high schools, which means that there are 77 high schools represented among all programs in the state.
The field has a couple of returning perennial powerhouses in Catholic Memorial (2022 state champion), Marquette, Arrowhead, Middleton, and Appleton North. The top rosters have lots of depth. Not just four or five guys who can carry a high school team, but nine or 10 athletes who can help allow teams to make a deep run-in weekend tournaments and state tournament playoffs. Sectional No. 4 in the state tournament is going to be competitive. It includes Arrowhead, Sussex Hamilton, Germantown, Cedarburg, and Pewaukee.
Why play in the fall?
The boys’ season is played in the fall for two primary reasons: The weather and gym space. You cannot trust a Wisconsin spring. There is snow on the ground in late April and early May. Spring sports need gym space in the spring because they can’t go outside. Many schools only have one gym. It works out best to have the boys and girls share the gym in the fall when no other indoor sports are going on at that time.
When did the sport get sanctioned?
The sport was sanctioned dating back to 1947 in Wisconsin. In the 1980s, due to the rise of football and balance with female sports, boys’ volleyball was cut. It was still played under the umbrella of a different governing body known as WISAA (Wisconsin Independent Schools Athletic Association). It wasn’t until the fall of 2000 that the WIAA sanctioned volleyball again. Because of that 20-year gap, many of the schools that once offered volleyball didn’t return, especially the smaller schools in the state.
Preseason Top 10
1. Catholic Memorial
6. Appleton North
9. Wauwatosa East
10. Kettle Moraine
Top Players for the 2023 Season
Max Bayer (Sussex Hamilton), 2024
Jade Breckheimer (Kaukauna), 2024
Vinny Coello (Catholic Memorial), 2024 (player of the year, committed to Pepperdine)
Hudson Dresen (Union Grove), 2024
Ambrose Engling (Middleton), 2024 (committed to Princeton)
Jack Fitterer (Marquette), 2024
Ethan Jetzer (South Milwaukee), 2024
Brady Koester (Kimberly), 2024
Logan Mainka (Pewaukee), 2025
Will Mathison (Kettle Moraine), 2024
Matteo Morgano (Sussex Hamilton), 2024
Nate Olson (Franklin), 2024
Dane Turner (Wilmot), 2024
Miles Von Rueden (Marquette), 2024
2022 Final Standings
1. Catholic Memorial
3. Appleton North
5. Union Grove
5. Wauwatosa East