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Lions see improvement in boys’ volleyball team’s 2nd year

By Wayne Witkowski

Jackson Liberty High School boys’ volleyball coach Brian Chesley knows it takes time to build a new program but sees optimistic signs of improvement in the program’s second year.

“Our inaugural season was absolutely a success. Our record does not describe our improvement from beginning to end. In the beginning of the season, it was clear that our team never played organized volleyball before,” Chesley said.

The Lions finished 1-20 last year, with the victory coming over Jackson Memorial High School, another first-year team.

“By the end of the year, we competed with teams in our division,” the coach said. “We did not look like it was our first year as a program.”

Jackson Liberty has started 0-2 this season.

“Now that we are in our second year, the players are improving tremendously on their skills. This year, we look to increase our knowledge of the game with more and more experience,” Chesley said. “The group of players that I have this year are eager to learn and improve every day. It is exciting to coach players who bring as much intensity to practices and games as they do. I am excited to see our young players grow throughout the year and the following years to come. ”

Chesley said the team has skills and athleticism but lacks experience, although only one player graduated and seven return from last season, including four seniors who start: setter Joe Albero, opposite hitter Mykola Hubchak, defensive specialist Dante Mathias and libero Austin Wan.

Juniors Jack Lilienkamp and Kristos Pettemerides are outside hitters along with freshman Luke Brown, and sophomores Luke Talalaj and Nick Nauerz are middle hitters.

The Lions showed the keen competitiveness in their opening match when they fell to Manchester Township High School, 25-21, 25-23, April 4. Talalaj and Lillenkamp had five and four kills, respectively, and Naurez had three blocks. Albero recorded seven service points and 10 assists.

The Lions lost a pair of 25-10 games to Wall High School April 6. They played at Keyport High School April 11 and visit Donovan Catholic High School April 18.

Jackson Memorial also battled competitively in an 0-2 start after getting swept by Central Regional High School (25-20, 25-21) April 4 and Toms River High School North (25-19, 25-20) April 6. Justin Bienick and Brendan Hudack led the way in both matches. Bienick had seven kills against Central Regional and nine against Toms River North. Hudack had seven service points and 13 assists in each of the two matches.

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