The first full year of Private School Athletic Association participation by the boys’ varsity volleyball program at the Brooklyn Friends School will be a difficult one to top.
The Blue Pride Panthers capped a near-perfect season with a four-set victory (26-24, 21-25, 25-11, 25-20) over rival Calhoun on Tuesday afternoon at the Horace Mann School to capture the PSAA Championship during their initial foray into the private school league.
“Pure satisfaction,” BFS head coach Felix Alberto gushed when asked by the Eagle how it felt to be crowned champions after Year One.
“We know that if the passion is there to compete and play hard we should always be competitive,” he added. “You have to give everything you have when you get on the court.”
Junior Thomas Chamberlain, whom Alberto credits with helping to pull the squad together during its formative club-team years, was named the PSAA League and Playoff MVP after the Pride outlasted Calhoun to finish with an astounding 17-1 record for the season.
The victory also avenged the Panthers’ lone defeat of the season, which came at the hands of Calhoun earlier in the campaign.
“It was pretty close and back then we were still working on a few things and we knew that we were a little out of sync,” Alberto noted of the early season loss. “But everybody buckled up after that and realized we had to work harder to make more progress. We went to the gym and improved as a team.”
Alberto, who was named PSAA Coach of the Year, added this title to the many championships he has compiled during his time at the Pearl Street School as the head coach of the more-established girls’ volleyball program.
After going 15-1 during the regular season, the Panthers cruised past Evangel, 25-12, 25-12, 25-20, in the PSAA semifinals on Monday.
Chamberlain led the offense with 15 kills, five aces and three blocks while fellow third-year standout Griffin Edwards accumulated 25 assists and a pair of aces in the straight-set triumph, leaving the Pride one win away from their ultimate goal.
In the title match, BFS edged Calhoun in the opening stanza before dropping a rare set.
But the Pride rose to the occasion of a tightly contested match with the title on the line, steam-rolling past Calhoun in Set 3 before finishing their rivals off in the fourth and final set.
Chamberlain amassed 24 kills, 11 blocks and two aces in the final, and Griffin proved the perfect set-up man with a match-high 28 assists.
Junior Lucas Miller, whom Alberto described as “the soul of the team”, added four kills and three blocks against Calhoun while junior Juan Alonso, 10th-graders Quran Davis and Tyler Vincent and freshman Phillip Camposano “did their part,” according to the coach.
“I think it was all about desire,” Alberto emphasized. “They stuck together and they wanted to step up against the only team to beat us. We wanted to have a chance against Calhoun and we got it.”
Though they aren’t eligible to compete in the upcoming state championships, the 2014 team has set a high standard for future boys’ volleyball squads at BFS.
Fortunately for Alberto, each and every member of this year’s team is eligible to return in 2015.
“The junior class, that’s the group that really started this program,” he noted. “They made sure that the volleyball team happened and now everybody that is on the roster knows that they can only grow and increase the interest (in the program) in the school. We have to keep moving forward.”