by Andrew Garda

That the Montclair High School boys volleyball program exists is in itself a victory. Of course, the team wants to win, but for a program that wasn’t even going to be around for sure, every game they play is a positive.

Although that can be hard to remember in the face of a straight-sets loss to Bloomfield on Monday, April 10. While there were certainly moments when the Mounties played well, firing off a run of points once or twice to close the gap with the Bengals, overall the team couldn’t do enough to overcome a good Bloomfield performance.

“The team played better in the second set but when you’re playing a team of players who are more experienced, then you definitely have to minimize your mistakes,” Mountie coach Pam Reilly said. “You can’t make the mistakes we made, because [Bloomfield is] going to earn their own points. We don’t really need to help them by giving them points.”

Bloomfield certainly didn’t need any help, as it outscored MHS 50-29 over the course of the match.
One of the biggest challenges Reilly has faced is getting her squad — which has multiple players new to the sport, including two from the football team — to talk.

“It is an issue. It’s been an issue,” Reilly said. “I’m trying to get them to understand that they need to communicate with each other.”

Communication is vital to volleyball, Reilly said, not just because you have to coordinate who is going after a ball, but because that’s how you stay energized as a team.

“If you’re not communicating, if you’re not giving positive energy to your teammates, it’s detrimental.”

While the energy was certainly low at times — “they have these lulls where they don’t say anything,” Reilly said — the physical errors were what really sank the Mounties.

Every time they seemed to begin building some momentum, there would be a miscommunication which would turn the serve over to Bloomfield.

Reilly says her young team needs to begin to trust one another.

“I just got finished telling them, we can’t have two or three people going after the same ball. If your teammate calls for it you have to trust that they’re going to get it and then actually let them get it.”

It takes time to build team chemistry, and Reilly will keep working on it. She says the girls team has shown improvement in that area, and she believes the boys can get there as well.

There’s the talent to win, if they can just get out of their own way.

“Once we figured things out, we realized ‘hey, we can play volleyball as well as [Bloomfield]’ and things were better.”
The Mounties didn’t stay that way often enough, though, and against a team like Bloomfield that’s something you pay for with a loss.

“We had a few good things happen but at the end of the day it’s a game of errors,” Reilly said. “If we make less errors and they make some, that would give us some momentum.”

They’ll have another shot to build that momentum Thursday night as they head to face Barringer on the road.