After posting a 14-5 record and making it to the 2014 state tournament semifinals before falling to the title-bound Salem High Blue Devils, the Pinkerton Academy boys’ volleyball squad lost a bunch of talent to graduation.
So coach Colin Walker’s Astros entered the 2015 campaign with less than a handful of varsity veterans, some talented newcomers, and high hopes that they could give divisional powers like Salem and Timberlane of Plaistow challenges when they meet up.
The PA team’s few returning starters include senior middle-hitter Connor Holland and senior outside-hitter Chris Komisarik. Senior middle-hitter Jake Newman and sophomore libero Cobi Moore also have varsity experience, but that’s it on returnees from the strong 2014 crew.
The promising newbies include juniors Brad Dubisz (setter), Hayden Pavao (defensive specialist), Shamus Doherty (outside-hitter), and Matt Erb (opposite).
“We are a young, inexperienced team, but we are not without talent,” said Walker. “Our goal is to transform a group of athletes into volleyball players and to improve throughout the season and be ready to compete for a championship by season’s end.”
The Astros got the new season officially started at home against the Hollis/ Brookline Cavaliers in Derry Tuesday, April 14, but the final result wasn’t too pleasing for the hosts. The Cavs took home a 3-1 match victory that day.
Pinkerton bagged a lopsided 25-13 win in game one, but Hollis/Brookline rebounded to win games two through four by tallies of 25-22, 25-15, and 25-16.
Dubisz snared 14 assists for PA, Erb collected six blocks, and Newman got four kills in the match.
But the team bounced back the next day in Keene, blanking the host Blackbirds by a 3-0 match count with game wins of 25-16, 25-16, and 25-15.
“The Keene win was a nice response to a disappointing loss the previous night to Hollis/Brookline,” said Walker. “The team is starting to come together, but it will take some time.”
Dubisz collected 20 assists, Holland snagged three blocks, seven kills, and eight service points, Moore bagged 16 digs, and Newman contributed four kills and 10 service points.
The Astros then took on the biggest challenge that their division has to offer this spring in the form of a home match against the Timberlane Regional Owls in Derry last Friday.
“Salem is the team to beat, with 10 straight titles, and it’s tough to say anything else. But I think Timberlane is the most talented team in our division. They only lost one starter to graduation, and I expect them to get past Salem this season,” said Walker.
In his team’s home match against the Owls, Walker saw his squad fall in three games by scores of 25-23, 25-18, and 25-19 to slip to 1-2 on the young season.
“The team played well tonight,” Walker said. “We still have a ways to go, but it is evident that we are heading in the right direction. I would not be surprised to see Timberlane competing for the division championship, and our inexperienced Astros hung with them but did not have the experience needed to get past them.”
Dubisz was good for 16 assists, Moore claimed 16 digs, Pavao notched 12 digs, Holland tallied seven service points and four kills, Newman snared five kills and two blocks, and Doherty bagged five kills.