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  • Writer's pictureCharlotte Wells

Boys Volleyball (Mack Nieman)

Entering the winter, the Cate School boy's volleyball team was looking to make a deep playoff run and possibly win it all. The team had not graduated a player in the past two years and was a cohesive, experienced unit of primarily upperclassmen. Coached by the Cate veteran KC Collins and the returning Greg Novak, the Rams dove into the season headfirst with excitement and drive. The team was led by captains Ben Richmond 24’, Mack Nieman 25’, and Clyde Kye 24’.

For the season's first game, the Rams faced off against the burly Laguna Owls, where they fell short in a hard-fought three-set match. Despite this loss, the Rams played well against a team two divisions higher than them and were excited to see themselves fight valiantly against such a formidable opponent. The potential seen in the game against Laguna excited the team and the coaches, giving a glimpse of what would come in the following matches. Zadin Stephens 25’, the starting libero for the last two years, stepped up to run the team as the new setter, and Lucas Huiner 25’, in his first year on varsity, filled in for Zadin, becoming the team’s new starting libero. The team found a momentous rhythm and took victories in the next three matches, setting them up for success with their first positive record in two years. During this thrilling win streak, Henry Bouma 25’ became comfortable in his position as opposite hitter, securing an abundance of blocks and kills from the right side with his monstrous and intimidating stature. Similarly, the team’s outside hitters Ben Richmond 24’ and Mack Nieman 25’ settled into their roles with significant contributions from the left side pin. The Rams had four skilled players in the middle blocker position–Hudson Bonsignor 25’, Zach Coulter 25’, Dilan Lee 24’, and Lucian Tann 26’-- all with their own skill sets. The team was figuring themselves out and getting closer and closer to a spot in the playoff bracket before heading off on spring break with a record of 3-1.

Unfortunately, the momentum hit a road bump on the first day back from spring break when captain and starting outside hitter Mack Nieman 25’ badly injured his ankle during practice and was ruled out for the remainder of the season. Thankfully, however, opposite and outside hitter substitute Max DeVore 25’ was ready to fill in for the injured captain. The team, still adjusting to the new lineup, suffered defeat in the following two games but quickly bounced back to reclaim their positive record and finish the regular season with six wins and four losses. This successful bounce-back was thanks to Oliver Lee 24’ and Patrick Wykoff 27’, who stepped up when it mattered, playing vital positions as serve and defensive specialists. With the second-best record in the Tri-Valley league, the Rams seemed sure to make the playoffs. However, the Rams were tied with two other teams for the spot. The Rams hosted a tie-breaker to determine who advanced, and St. Bonaventure became the only thing standing between Cate and a playoff spot. St. Bonaventure had beaten the Rams in their most recent bout, but in the fate-deciding rematch, Cate School came out on top with a 3-1 victory.

Entering playoffs, the Rams were ready to play and excited to see their goals and ambitions finally lining up. The first match of the bracket was a wildcard game against Beacon Hill, where the Rams came out of the gates firing and secured a breezy 3-0 win to send them to their next opponent. High off their victory, the Rams traveled to Malibu High School, the number one seed in the bracket, for their next match. Fueled by Clyde Kye’s chants, they again started the game off strong, taking the first set. Malibu responded promptly by winning the second set and giving the Rams a run for their money in the third. The Rams stole the close third set and conceded the fourth to the Sharks. It was all tied up at 2-2 heading into the fifth and final set. The Rams stepped back onto the court ready to fight but ultimately fell to the hand of the Sharks in an exciting set, ending their season.

The boy's volleyball team made an exciting run this year, placing third in their league and making playoffs, but ultimately losing in the first round of the bracket. They played hard, and they played with their hearts as everybody on the team found a way to contribute. The energy from the team this season was something to behold, and they cannot wait for next year when they hope to once again make playoffs, but this time, they win it all. The team also thanks their lovely and retiring coaches, KC Collins and Greg Novak, for an incredible year of coaching, as the team will miss them dearly for their spirit, humor, and beautiful contributions to the Cate boys volleyball program.


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