Boys beach volleyball adjusts to new team dynamics, prepares for coming season

Ella Jiang, Staff Writer

After many key players in the boys beach volleyball program graduated last year, returning players Xavier O’Boyle (11) and Donovan Weber (11) said they are excited to see how the new team performs this season. 

Westview’s team consists of 5 pairs of players.

“We have a lot of teams that are consistent,” Weber said. “We don’t have one team dominating over all the others as much as it was last year.” 

O’Boyle said there’s a good balance among the team’s pairs.

“There’s no big star player, there’s just a bunch of players on an even amount of teams,” he said. “[Any of] the five [teams] could easily be the one seed and it could be flipped around either which way.”

In last year’s season, boy’s volleyball finished 8th in San Diego. They have hopes to follow that success with another Division 1 boys beach volleyball medal, but understand it’ll take hard work considering their competition.

“It’d be nice to be open to [winning], but there’s some really good teams in San Diego like Torrey Pines and Scripps Ranch, who are both in our league, and I hope we can beat either one of them,” O’Boyle said. “With how [it] went in indoor [season], being 2nd in San Diego, I think we have a good chance of finishing high in opening division.”

O’Boyle and Weber said they feel generally positive regarding the upcoming season while being so early in, but O’Boyle said he is uncertain if they’ll outperform their previous year.

“We had some really good players last year that unfortunately graduated, but we have some good, new talent coming up and I guess we haven’t really seen much of it yet,” O’Boyle said. “I’m not too sure if we’re going to be better or worse.”

Weber said he believes the teams have a higher chance of success this year considering the amount of practice many players have had before the season.

“I think we’re going to be better overall because we have a lot of people coming up,” Weber said. “These people have played beach all summer, like Owen Sajnog (11), JJ Texeira (11), Alvin Hoang (11), and Tyler Kastenholz (11).”

Both Weber and O’Boyle said their summer was also spent with consistent practice.

“I’ve been playing camps the entire summer,” Weber said. “I’ve been going to open gyms, [to make] sure I get touches and stay ready.”

No matter the time of year, they said nonstop playing will always be the option they strive for.

“I like playing volleyball year-round, I don’t like taking breaks,” O’Boyle said. “In between club season and indoor season, during the summer, beach is just a great thing.”

At the start of the season, O’Boyle suffered a minor injury in the ligaments connecting his shoulder blade and collarbone from overuse,  which left him unable to participate in the first day of practice.

“The doctor said I should be out for a couple days to a week, so I just have to ice it every day,” O’Boyle said. “I already feel great, I feel like I can play today if I really wanted to.”

Even without an injury, the physical strain of indoor volleyball compared to beach is drastically different. Weber said it can be a struggle playing volleyball in sand and according to beach rules. 

“Having two people, you have to run around the entire court, get the ball up and [recover] really quickly to get the ball back over,” he said. “Jumping in sand is also really difficult because you have to get the right foot placement.”

O’Boyle said that an outdoor environment can also affect the outcome of a play.

“The wind can sometimes throw things off like the set, or the serve can move or sky balls and stuff like that,” he said. “Being outdoors is definitely a factor that can affect it, and it makes it so much more difficult than indoors.”

With two people on the court and only three touches allowed, quick, precise movements, as well as fast-thinking, are key to an effective play.

“It’s more controlled, more restrictive [with] what you can do,” O’Boyle said. “You’ve got to be more careful with how you set it so you don’t double as much.”

Weber said playing beach allows for more versatility, unlike indoors where there are set positions.

“For beach you also just get a lot of touches, [and] you experience doing everything,” he said. “You get to serve, you get to pass, you get to hit, you get to set, you get to do it all.”

With excitement for more practices, scrimmages, and games, Weber and O’Boyle look forward to the season.

“I think we have a chance to go really far,” O’Boyle said.