Weekly Feature



2014-09-10 / Sports

New era of Blue Devils volleyball begins with Hogan

Kenmore West was looking for a new boys volleyball coach after legendary coach Gary Tocke decided not to return this year.

Filling a big pair of shoes is Ryan Hogan, who coached the Kenmore East boys junior varsity team for the past two seasons. While there, his teams had a winning record each season.

Hogan is inheriting a team that finished last season with just a pair of wins, but lost numerous other close matches.

“There are several returning players who are focused and determined to improve for the 2014 season,” Hogan said. “Along with several great athletes who have never played organized volleyball before.”

The two captains leading this year’s Blue Devils team are a pair of seniors, libero Nick Atallah and outside hitter Tyler Steubechen.

In addition, Kenmore West returns three other seniors to help bolster the front line including Dave Blumberg, Joe Gardon and Tom Massey.

“One of our strengths is that we are aware of where we are as a team, and we are realistic about what we need to do to get better,” Hogan said.

The surrounding cast around the seniors are many athletic, but inexperienced players.

Junior RJ Souter started playing volleyball last year as a sophomore for the JV team. Now he will be stepping in to contribute on the varsity level for the first time.

“He has been impressive in practice so far and is looking to have a breakout season,” Hogan said.

Running the offense are a pair of sophomore twin brothers, Adam and Jacob Pray. Both have comparable skills, and even for their age, remain poised on the court.

“What I like most about the Pray boys is their competitive spirit,” Hogan added. “They want to work hard in practice and they want to win.”

One of the more intriguing additions to the team is a transfer from Kenmore East, Aaron Tucker who stands 6-foot-4. This is Tucker’s first year playing volleyball, but his athleticism gives Hogan a lot to look forward to.

“Aaron can jump out of the gym and his athleticism makes him a valuable asset to our team,” Hogan said. “He is showing improvement daily with hitting and blocking, and hopefully will continue to improve to help the squad as the season progresses.”

With such an inexperienced squad, Hogan said he wants to take each day one at a time to focus on continually improving. Even though the Blue Devils won just two games last year, it hasn’t stopped Hogan from setting the goal to host a sectional quarterfinal game.

“As they continue to improve their volleyball skills throughout the season, I think they will upset a few teams who really don’t have us on their radar,” he said.

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