GHS volleyball team photo following victory over Rockville. Photo credit - GHS senior Juliana Corsa, who will minor in photography at The University of New Hampshire.
Tony Sanith took over as the head coach for the boys’ volleyball this spring, filling the seat for longtime head coach Pay Ryan.
Sanith, who also coaches girls’ volleyball at GHS, has implemented his own coaching style yet is keeping Ryan’s principles in place.
“Pat is a living legend in this area,” Sanith said of Ryan, “I didn’t know exactly what I was getting, so at tryouts we started to figure out who we had. We had great athletes that came out, especially the upperclassmen that have some experience, and it was a lot easier than expected.”
So far, so good for the new coach.
As on Monday, the Guardian have won four of five games, including a three-set win over Rockville last Wednesday night at GHS. It was the team’s third straight victory.
Senior captains Liam Scales and Peter Sposito led the way in the win over the visiting Rams from Rockville.
Scales had a game-high 16 kills, including the game-winner to polishing off the match in the third set, and Sposito added five kills and a pair of aces.
“We started to figure it out and we started to play like a team, doing the stuff that we needed to do,” Sposito said of the team’s development, “We’ve definitely grown since our first game.”
The captains are in the unique position after having their junior season wiped away by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Quarantine was definitely hard. We really couldn’t do anything but once it started getting nicer in the summer we tried to get out and get into the weight room to do whatever we could. We went from being sophomores to now being a senior captain. It was difficult, but once we came to tryouts, we knew we were the leaders and we knew what we had to do,” said Scales, who added the goal remains the same, “We just play to win. Obviously we want to have fun, but the main goal is to win. Our objective doesn’t change no matter what year it is.”
Success is always the name of the game for the program, which won 16 of 19 regular season matches the last time the team was together in 2019. All-conference seniors Jake Harasyko, Ryan Kelly, Will Miller graduated following that season.
Sanith is filling the voids on the court with a deep junior class, which include setter Paul Gilberto and libero Stephen Dayton.
Gilberto, a lefty, dished out 21 assists and had a team high six aces, including back-to-back late in the second set.
“You don’t get to see too many lefties, so just seeing that dynamic and different approach could throw off a lot of players that may not have seen it,” Sanith said of Gilberto, “Paul is one of our best servers. He’s focused and he does a great job with his float serve, which is a little more aggressive than most.”
Dayton wowed the crowd with a diving dig in the third set, prior to setting up Sposito for a kill, putting the Guardians up 17-8. He added his own powerful jump serve later in the third, blazing an ace to provided point #23 for the Guardians.
“Stephen is just a gamer. He loves the sports so much, so he tries to put in his all every single second,” stated Sanith, “When you love the sport as much as he does it becomes easy to learn and he soaks everything up. He might have to play a different position next year or have a different role because he’s capable of it.”
Fellow junior Eric Rose added a team-high four blocks.
Sanith added that the team is now understanding the nuances of the game, “I like how they are learning the sport little more. We are gifted enough. We have very tall, physically athletic kids that make great plays, but I think we’re progressing at learning the IQ side of the game.”
Through five matches, the captains are both thankful to be competing and are working in harmony to groom the younger players.
“We’ve embraced the role and became more of their friend and mentor then a disciplinary,” Sposito said of captaining the team, “It’s an unprecedented time, so we’ve got to take advantage of every things we’ve got because you don’t know what’s going happen.”
Scales added that the seniors, who have been together since middle school, are all best friends off the court, prompting the team motto, “G on three, Family on six”.
“They’re great leaders,” Sanith said of his seniors, which include James Carpenter, Jeremy Davis, and Jason Porter.
“They have everyone in the program buying in and they allow me to coach. Their internal belief that we can win is motivating everyone and they lead by example, on the court and off the court.”
Senior captains Peter Sposito and Liam Scales
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin