by Andrew Garda

garda@montclairlocal.news

If you were to place bets on what Montclair High School teams have been most impacted by the lingering winter, boys volleyball would probably not make the list.

However, as they make room in the gym for at least four other teams — boys and girls lacrosse, baseball and softball — a usually wide-open practice schedule has had to be moved and compressed to help out their fellow Mounties.

While head coach Pam Reilly is happy to chip in, it hasn’t made the job of forming her team any easier.

“The practice situation has been kind of awkward obviously,because of the fact that we have to share the gym,” Reilly said during a recent practice. “There’s nothing you can do about the weather, but it becomes hard when I can’t stay an extra hour or so if I need to.”

The haphazard and moving practice schedule is compounded by the fact that Reilly has a lot of hopefuls to work with and less time.

“We have a lot of guys out,” she said. “And we have a lot of younger guys, which is good. Having a lot of seniors can be problematic. We have some returning players who have talent, but they all may not get an opportunity to play. Just because you made the team doesn’t mean you’re always going to play...If you’ve got a uniform, it doesn’t mean squat. You can just be looking nice in your uniform, sitting on the bench if you don’t get out here and work hard.”

Reilly is hoping that knowing no position is secure will push the boys to work harder and constantly compete, improving the team as a whole.

“It’s very, very early. But some guys are working hard,” she said, “Some of them aren’t working to the best of their ability. Our guys tend to be overconfident, which is always a problem with the male athlete, who just automatically feels that they can just do something as opposed to paying attention to specific details.”

Mounties head volleyball coach Pam Reilly runs the junior varsity squad through a blocking drill. As she enters her third year, Reilly is still working on her team's communication.
PHOTO BY ANDREW GARDA/STAFF
Mounties head volleyball coach Pam Reilly runs the junior varsity squad through a blocking drill. As she enters her third year, Reilly is still working on her team's communication.
PHOTO BY ANDREW GARDA/STAFF
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Reilly has a large core group of returning players, and is hoping they can merge well with the younger and newer players.

While much of the team isn’t set in stone quite yet, there are a few players Reilly knows she will be looking to for leadership this season.

“Ryan McGeehan has been playing club in the offseason,” she said. “He’s a senior and a pretty solid player. He gives us good leadership. Ethan Grossbach is another young man who came to us last year — this is only his second year — and he’s super-athletic and does whatever you want. Great kid. Eric Goldberg did really well for us last year as an outside hitter. He’s a solid passer, but the only thing with Eric is he tries to crush every ball and we’re trying to add a little finesse to his game.”

Reilly could go on for a long time, and said there’s really no shortage of players who could step up and be leaders on the court.

More than anything she needs those leaders to communicate. Last season, the team would suddenly stop talking to each other, which would almost always lead to a lost point.

This year, Reilly is going to attack that head on with drills, which she used with the girls team this past fall in the hopes that the same success she had getting them to communicate will carry over. She also wants them to be more consistent and know when a spike is called for and when a finesse shot is needed.

“It’s a mind game. You have to think this through,” Reilly said. “You can’t always rely on physicality. See the floor, see the hole in the floor, tip to the hole in the floor. Those are sophisticated things that you, as a player, if one thing isn’t working, you have to figure out something else.”

There’s plenty to work on. For now, though, she still has to figure out who really wants that varsity spot and who is coasting.

“Right now, some of these guys are not hungry, and some of them are,” she said. “We’ll have to see.”