An Early Impact for the Men’s Volleyball Team

Story by Reporter Alex Rodriguez

Photo courtesy of AQ Athletics

After graduating 8 seniors in 2022, Head Coach Michael Crane brought on 9 freshmen to the roster for the 2023 season. Unlike most years, all but two starters from last year returned to play again this year. With a brand new team coming in this year, Coach Crane and the Men’s Volleyball team relied a lot on the impact that the freshmen could make this season. Throughout this year, every freshman on the team has gotten time to play including three that stood out claiming a starting spot with this new team. 

Freshmen Carter Sabo, Colin Iligan, and Alexander Rodriguez have made a crucial point that they may be young, but they are nonetheless talented. 

Sabo, a starting right side, has been averaging 1.5 kills per game along with a little more than a block every other set. Throughout this year, he has been a go to guy, super senior Julian Armendano has even mentioned that throughout this season he has been able to fully trust that when Sabo was in, he would find a way to make a good impact in the game. With Sabo being a reliable asset to this years volleyball team, he made a unforgettable impact especially in the home game against Bethel making a block deep in the fifth set so impressive it was highlighted on “noezybuckets”, a credible social media page that posts top highlight plays across the country. 

Iligan, a starting libero, has also been making his name known through his serve receive and digs throughout this season, currently averaging 1.7 digs per set and nearly 300 passes via serves well enough to run our offense effectively. Assistant Coach Joshua Evers describes Colin as a hardworking and determined player that has nothing but energy and optimism on and off the court. He has had a pleasure being able to work with Colin, and looks forward to watching his improvements throughout the rest of the season. 

Rodriguez, a starting middle blocker, has been not shy when it comes to doing his part on the court. He currently is averaging a hitting average of .194 and next to 0.70 blocks per set. His improvements throughout the season have been slow, but more and more he has become an asset to this season. Chase Gil, a junior captain, also a starting middle blocker said, “Alex is one of the hardest workers I know and is always wanting to make his game better, whether it’s about his blocking or how he should fix his offense. He’s always asking questions and that stands out to me a lot because he wants to get better. He’s proved that he really cares about this game and wants to make his name known across the Whac.” 

Although these freshmen have made a certain impact this year, not a single freshman should be going unnoticed for they have all made such big impacts, such as Callahan Schwartz who stepped up for 3 games in the setting position when Leo Paul Rousseau was injured, Tristan De Pooter who has appeared in games as a middle blocker and an outside hitter, or Gage Dinges and Scott Hopkins who often come in as serving specialist or as defensive specialist. The 9 freshmen show up and show out when being put into a tough position from the beginning, but still it stands that our Aquinas Men’s Volleyball has a shot at placing in the WHAC and potentially reaching nationals after beating Indiana Tech and Lawerence Tech who were both ranked at the time!