DuBOIS — The word ‘reloading’ is often misused or at least overused when it comes to high school sports.
Perhaps ‘refitting’ or ‘retooling’ would be a somewhat better fit, especially when it comes to how it applies to most teams.
For the DuBois Area High School boys volleyball team that would certainly be the case.
The Beavers lost several of their key players from a season ago and, while those spots will have to be reloaded, it isn’t likely to be with the same caliber of players.
DuBois lists just one senior, Drew Canter, on its roster while the majority are juniors.
That doesn’t mean that the Beavers have lower expectations. Just different ones.
“We’re certainly still a young team, but our juniors have a lot of significant varsity playing time,” DuBois head coach Tom Hibbert said. “That’s going to help a lot. Some of them were JV players last year so they’ll have to step up.”
There are eight juniors in all and they, along with the three sophomores, will see their share of court time this season as the players that graduated played big roles at the net.
“We don’t really seem to have that big guy (to be our focus player) but we have a lot of guys that can play,” Hibbert said. “They can pass and they can hit the ball with some pace but, so far, we haven’t seen that player that has that offensive power that we had last year.
“Now I’m hoping that as the year goes on and we get more practice time and games under our belt that our core of juniors will get better as the year goes on and we’ll see some improvement in that area.”
While that might seem to be a drawback, it also has the potential for certain advantages.
“I think that might allow us to be a little more well-rounded offensively,” Hibbert said. “Not having that one guy that someone can key on should certainly allow us to move the ball around and open things up for a lot of different people.”
Juniors Zach Koren and Josh Briggs are likely to be a couple of the keys to DuBois’ success on the outsides, but it’s the inexperience in the middle that is likely to face the biggest test.
“We’ve got some kids that have been playing for about 10 minutes that are going to be playing some varsity,” Hibbert joked. “Blaise Carney and Zack Carlson are going to see a lot of action this weekend. We’re a middle short and those two guys are going to have to fill that spot.
“They’re literally just learning the game and they’ll have to play against some of the real volleyball powers in the state but it will be a good learning experience for them.”
Junior Donny Wentz will get the nod as the libero while sophomore Damon Olson will get a chance to set. Juniors Tom Hibbert and Andy Weese are also expected to put their experience to use and will figure in the mix along with several others.
The Beavers may be lacking in some areas, they seem to be in a comfortable area when it comes to their roster size.
“Having about 16 or 17 on the team is a good number,” Hibbert said. “And having the amount of freshmen that we have it’s good to see. If we can keep getting four, five, six freshmen every year we can build a program around that.
“We’ve had years where we’ve only had one or two and that’s tough. But this year we had five out and we’re hoping that the program will keep growing off that.”
DuBois will open its season at the Cambridge Springs Tournament this weekend before returning home to host Central Tuesday.
Seniors: Drew Canter. Juniors: Josh Briggs, Tom Hibbert, Donny Wentz, Andy Weese, Zach Koren, Shane Ponzi, Braeden Wineberg, Zack Carlson. Sophomores: Ian Brown, Damon Olson, Blaise Carney. Freshmen: Garrett Girardi, Joel Puncheon, Mike Eisman, Aidan Castro.