Members of this year’s Moorestown boys volleyball team have spent the bulk of their athletic careers playing together at the various levels of high-school sports.
After an undefeated freshman season, the group lost its sophomore year to the pandemic before suffering a loss in just one JV game during their junior year. A strong senior class last year mostly dominated the starting varsity lineup.
The strong team chemistry developed over the past three years, head coach Scott Atkinson said, paid huge dividends early and often as the 2021-’22 season got underway.
“We knew they’d be good; I think it would be fair to say that they weren’t as athletic or talented as last year’s seniors were, but they were definitely bonded better and that’s allowed them to play at a high level,” Atkinson added. “They’re very fun to watch because of how committed they are to one another.
“We knew coming in as coaches that they’d be tough to beat, but I didn’t expect this kind of success.”
The Quakers’ season ended May 26 with a 2-1 loss to Cherry Hill East in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA South Jersey tournament, finalizing a season record of 20-4, having once again finished atop the Burlington County Scholastic League Patriot Division standings. Moorestown went undefeated in the BCSL this season.
According to Atkinson, the team’s unique athletic ability and strong bond and trust in one another allowed them to stray from the traditional 5-1 scheme, and played what he called a “five half and half,” which made for a more dynamic offense on the court.
“With how we’re able to play and substitute people in and out, it’s a very weird conglomeration but we’re able to set from the left, the middle and the right,” the coach said.
“This group’s ability to hit from all places made that possible,” he added, “so we came into the year spending those first three weeks working on free ball and serve-return routes. Their ability allowed us as a team to be a little more creative and innovative with what we did on the court.”
Junior Ethan Lee led Moorestown in assists this season with 211, while also racking up 55 kills of his own. Atkinson gave Lee big praise, saying he believes the junior setter is “the most dynamic setter in South Jersey,” due to how well he can disguise where he’s placing the ball on a second hit.
Lee has spent a considerable amount of time with the senior class during the past seasons, allowing him to have that strong bond with the group on the court, something he agrees has been beneficial to the teams play style.
“Last year when we first started, we were in a little bit different of a place, but now that it’s been a year, we’re so much better in terms of teamwork and understanding how we play,” Lee said.
“There’s a lot more trust in there.”
Senior Colin Llewellyn led the team in both kills and blocks this season, with 116 and 30 in the teams 24 games this season. Through their three years of volleyball action, the seniors lost just five games, something Llewellyn said was possible thanks to the culture they’d developed.
“We went undefeated our freshman year and were still able to come together our junior year and keep that momentum going after losing our sophomore season,” he said. “It feels like we’ve always played together … I’m lucky to be a part of the teams we’ve had over the years.
“The relationship we have on the court feels like such an advantage,” Llewellyn added. “We know where each other are going to be on the court and our play styles so well that it makes it easier.”