The Johnston boys volleyball team picked up where it left off last season and has jumped out to an 8-1 start this spring season.
The Panthers finished in first place in the Division III standings last year and has already topped some of the Division’s best clubs including Mt. Hope. Of the team’s eight wins, seven came by way of shutout.
Despite losing standouts Deremy Stubbs and Davian Ortiz from last year’s club, this year’s group has maintained its focus and has hit the ground running.
“We won the division last year but we lost two huge players. We have a very strong core that has been friends since elementary school in Jacob (Muller), Josh (Galaes), and James (Guilmette). They have such a great chemistry, it makes it seamless. They’re such a great combination,” said Johnston coach Greta Lalli.
Lalli has also been excited to see the development of some of the other young players as well.
“We’ve had some other great athletes step up. Guys like Sam Cambranes and Nick Harrington. These guys worked really hard and they’ve done a great job. Then out of the blue Joseph Centino has stepped up and filled the spot that Deremy left. He is our secret weapon. To have that chemistry, I can’t tell you how big of a relief that is,” Lalli said.
The Panthers’ remaining schedule will be primarily rematches of previous games to this point. The team’s lone loss came to Lincoln – who is currently unbeaten – and Johnston hopes to finish strong.
“We definitely were not prepared for their intensity, their size, we were surprised and impressed at how good Lincoln was,” said Lalli. “We’ve been telling the kids all the time that you never know who was absent, who may have been hurt and is now back. You may have beat them 3–0 the last time, but you can’t rest on that. We need to go into every match like the other team is just as good, if not better than us; we have to act as if we know nothing about them.”
Lalli added: “There isn’t this big pressure to go out there and win every game. We just want them to play their game and have fun. That is when they play their best.”
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