Johnny McGinley leading the offensive attack for Moorestown boys’ volleyball
It’s hard not to notice Moorestown High School boys’ volleyball senior Johnny McGinley when he’s on the court.
When McGinley serves, he soars through the air, tossing the ball more than 10 feet high.
When his hand hits the ball, a deep, booming sound emanates. If one were to stay focused on McGinley as he serves or goes for a spike, they’d miss the play at the opposing end. McGinley frequently hits the ball with such force he leaves the opposition frozen in its path.
McGinley is a major offensive force for the Quakers, and his talents were recognized at the 22-team Moorestown Tip-Off Tournament on April 2. McGinley was named an all-star as the Quakers went 6–1 in pool play in the tournament.
Being named an all-star is an honor opposing coaches bestowed on McGinley. After each pool play match during the tournament, each coach named a player on the opposing team to receive an all-star vote. McGinley received enough votes to be one of six players named to the all-star team.
“If you’re sitting on the other side of the net and there’s one kid constantly slamming the ball, he generally stands out,” Moorestown head coach Scott Atkinson said.
McGinley didn’t play serious, competitive volleyball until he tried out for the high school team freshman year. His family has a history playing volleyball at Moorestown, as four of McGinley’s older sisters played for the girls’ team when they attended the school.
“I came into high school knowing I was going to play volleyball,” McGinley said. “I got a good hang of it just because of my family background.”
McGinley has played all over the court. He tried out as an out side player as a freshman, but ended up switching positions once he made the team.
“I tried out as a freshman on the outside,” he said. “I got put on the team as a center. I was behind a senior. Sophomore year I was a libero. I actually thank coach a lot for that because it’s taught me how to set, it’s taught me how to pass and I started playing club as well, playing the outside position and learning how to hit.”
Playing libero was when McGinley began to really grow as a player. Atkinson credits McGinley with working hard to learn the sport. McGinley learned how to become a big hitter through constant practice.
“In volleyball, you’re hitting a moving object with a moving object,” Atkinson said. “It’s a very difficult skill to learn. The kids who do it well like Johnny make it look easy. It’s not. There’s a lot of coordination involved and there’s a lot of repetition involved.”
“He’s played club, he’s worked in the summer and he’s gotten to the point where that is now just a reflex,” Atkinson added.
As good a hitter as McGinley is, Atkinson said many don’t realize how solid McGinley’s other skills are.
“For me, he stands out for other reasons, because he’s a good leader, because he’s a good passer,” Atkinson said. “He was mostly recognized as a good attacker.”
The leadership skills are especially important for a Moorestown team that had a few new players move into the starting lineup this season.
“We’re grooming a new setter, we’re grooming a new opposite, we’re grooming a new libero,” Atkinson said. “Where he has been very helpful is in giving our setter constant, positive feedback.”
“I try to do a good job of controlling the court and doing my best to reach out to other players,” McGinley said.
The Quakers won the first two regular season matches, but McGinley believes the team has a few things it needs to fix. Moorestown has struggled early in matches during the first week and the Tip-Off Tournament, falling behind in opening sets, leading a number of the tip-off matches to go down to the wire.
“We’re going to fix that during practice and fix that during the next few games,” McGinley said. “That’s why it was so close. I’m really liking how we’re starting to realize quickly what we need to get done.”
McGinley is also trying to make a number of improvements with his game.
“I want to get a little bit more consistent on my serves, start passing a little bit better,” he said. “I’ve been really pleased with my hits this year.”