When all is said and done this season, Immaculate Conception volleyball head coach Jimmy Kreie hopes that his boys team will have reached some of its goals.

The team lost almost all of its starters from last season to graduation, so Kreie adapted his goals for this year.

“We are unorthodox, and we’re going to buy into that and play a different way,” Kreie said, referring to the team’s inexperience. “We’re athletic and want to win. We want to go after the [Super Essex Conference Liberty Division] conference and give it a run at county’s and state’s. The plan is to get better every day.”

As of last Friday, April 8, the Lions were 1-3 after losing to West Essex at home, 25-11, 25-16.

The lone victory so far was a three-set, come-from-behind win over Newark Collegiate, 22-25, 25-18, 25-16 on April 4 on the road.

“Our backs were against the wall, and we made the adjustment to fight back, get the momentum and then keep it,” Kreie said. “We made some changes to the game plan, and we bought in.”

Senior starters lost to graduation included Nicholas  Martinez, who was the Lions’ top offensive player in 2021, when the Lions were 2-9.

The lone starter who is back is junior Manny Smith, with a pair of sophomores, Rene Caguana and Kristoff Kerr, having previous floor experience for the Lions.

 Smith, the team’s setter (the equivalent of the quarterback in football), will be relied on to help lead the way this spring.

“He’s the team captain and is just natural at the game,” Kreie said. “He can get it to anyone, anywhere, and then he’s also a tremendous hitter. So, as we grow, we can incorporate that into the game plan. If they don’t know how to guard Manny because he’s multifaceted, it’ll open up the court for everyone.”

attachment-Immaculate Conception boys v ball v West Essex 4-8-22 DSC_0998
Immaculate boys volleyball head coach Jimmy Kreie talks to his team during a timeout against West Essex. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

Immaculate is bolstered by some height, as four basketball players, senior Angel Rodriguez, junior Jordan Rodriguez, sophomore Bryan St. Pierre and sophomore Ben Price, decided to come out for the team. 

“We have a few athletes that can do it all that we’ll work on using them to their strengths,” the coach said. “We have a lot of work to do, but we are sure as hell going to be athletic, and most importantly we're going to know how to compete.”

Of the group of basketball players, Kreie points to Angel Rodriguez and Price as the best hitters, while St. Pierre is good at the net.

The coach knows what his team, with its lack of experience, needs to work on as the season progresses.  

“Passing and trusting,” Kreie said. “We add those two to our athleticism, and we could be a surprise team in the SEC that can push a few people to play a game they didn’t think they’d have to play too hard.”

Immaculate Conception boys volleyball schedule

(Matches at 4 p.m.)

April 13    Science Park

April 18    at Montclair

April 22    at Belleville

April 25    Newark Collegiate

April 27    at Pope John

April 29    at West Orange

May 2      at West Essex

May 4      Newark Tech

May 9      at Science Park

May 11    Montclair