Digging In


Ever since the boys volleyball program at JP Stevens started, the Hawks have beat every team in the county except for one, the Saint Joseph Falcons of Metuchen. After 64 matches of frustration, disappointment, and anger, the boys decided this season was going to be one to remember. Entering the game with an 8-4 record, the Hawks were mentally and physically ready to pull off a victory against the second ranked team in the state. Behind senior captain and Penn State commit Kyle Mackiewicz, who had 12 kills and junior Aakash Shrivastava’s 25 assists, the boys were able to shock the state and upset the Falcons in straight sets: 26-24, 25-19. Even though the Hawks seem to be underdogs in many of the games they play in, no team should ever underestimate their ability.

“It was an incredible feeling, knowing that we made JP history,” remarked Eric Li, reflecting on the victory. “We’ve always known that we’re talented enough to win against them, and all it took was for us to believe and give it everything we had.” Li contributed to the win with a well-rounded performance of 6 kills, 9 service points, and 12 digs.

In addition to the big win against Saint Joseph, JP Stevens has also emerged victorious against Livingston and Old Bridge, who were ranked 14th and 7th in the state, respectively, at the time the games were played. The Hawks also pulled off an upset against the host of the Hackensack Tournament held in April. After defeating the 13-4 Falcons of Jefferson High School in the first round, the boys beat Hackensack High School in the semi-finals, who were ranked 13th in the state. Even though the Hawks eventually lost to Bergen Catholic in the finals, they were able to show the state that JP Stevens has the talent to be deemed as a powerhouse in boys volleyball.   

Leading the team this season, coach Anthony White and senior captains Kyle Mackiewicz, Kevin Zhao, and James Lee have helped the Hawks achieve a respectable 11-8 record. Kyle currently leads the team in kills, with 192, as well as aces, with 25, while James has added 84 service points. Kevin has provided a big blocking presence at the net, tallying 51 blocks on the season. The seniors aren’t the only ones who have been contributing, however; in addition, Aakash Shrivastava has performed admirably as the player running the offense for the Hawks, as demonstrated by his 251 assists, and Eric Li has stepped up big with 116 kills, 82 service points, and 18 aces, all good for second-best on the team.

When asked about the team’s improvement, Kyle Mackiewicz said, “We definitely have come a long way. There has been improvement in every aspect of the game and I believe that we truly are shocking the state with the many upsets we have had.” Evidently, composure has been one area in which the Hawks have improved; after the first 3 games of the season, the team had a 1-2 record, but they managed to come together and regroup, never falling below .500 for the rest of the season after topping 14th-seeded Livingston to get back to 2-2. This composure, which has persisted throughout the season, has been a key factor in the Hawks’ victories against top-seeded teams, and the volleyball program looks to continue this positive trend for all of its future teams.

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