team," Connolly-Freund said. "We had to compete against St. Margaret's,
Capistrano Valley Christian and Brethren Christian, who mostly had
seniors. It was hard to compete against that strength and maturity. A
great goal would be for us to finish in the top four. I don't know if we
can crack the top three. I'm just hoping we improve and build on the good
start our program has gotten off to."
The Lightning started as a junior varsity unit, which played a
free-lance schedule last year.
This season, they already have a varsity victory, a sweep of Tarbut
V'Torah in the Feb. 26 opener.
"I'm very happy about the program, because we have 24 guys, which
allows us to have a varsity and a JV," Connolly-Freund said.
With seven sophomores, three freshmen and two juniors,
Connolly-Freund, a former women's head coach at UC Irvine and Cornell,
also likes the program's future.
"Our guys have a natural chemistry and practice is a lot of fun," she
said. "The players are real competitive with one another."
Helping the Lightning compete will be Kevin Joyce, a 6-foot-3
sophomore who is a veteran of the Balboa Bay Volleyball Club program.
"He'll pass the middle in all six rotations and he's also our go-to
hitter," Connolly-Freund said. "He's our team captain and he has a lot of
responsibility for a sophomore. But I believe he can handle it."
Sophomore setter Julian Smith-Newman will be entrusted with triggering
"Last year was his first playing volleyball and he's a lot more
comfortable this year," Connolly-Freund said. "He's more mature
physically and mentally. Last year, we ran a 6-2 (a two-setter scheme),
but this year we're running a 5-1 (with him as the lone setter)."
Macsun Frederick, a 6-1 sophomore and another returner, is another
outside hitter with potential.
"He's our second-best passer and he has been swinging really well from
the outside," Connolly-Freund said.
Erik Williams, a 6-0 junior, and Blake Brewer, a 6-0 freshman, are
newcomers from the basketball team.
Williams (with a measured vertical leap of 38 1/2 inches) is a very