Hochschild sets Giants up for promising playoff run

Riley Overend

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When senior Geffen Hochschild joined the boys’ varsity volleyball team four years ago, the scrawny freshman setter didn’t play at all. With little discernible athletic ability, Hochschild sported a moppy head of hair that resembled his unrefined style of play.

Today, the 6’1”, 140-pound Hochschild hasn’t nixed his lanky body frame. But he has learned to use it to his advantage, transforming into MCAL’s best setter and a captain for the second-place Giants.

Hochschild’s metamorphosis has included everything from improved dexterity, to a newfound sense of leadership, to a less laughable hairstyle.

“His understanding of the flow of the game and his court senses have really come along since freshman year,” coach Tahan Minakov said. “He’s not the most athletic guy, but he’s athletic enough. He’s not the fastest guy, but he’s fast enough. He works so hard everyday and through that sheer determination, it allows him to be successful.”

However, one thing that hasn’t changed throughout his tenure at Redwood is the team’s difficulty dethroning rival Drake. In his four years on varsity, Hochschild has seen Drake take the league pennant while also sweeping the Giants in regular season play every year.

The next step for the Giants (17-8, 10-2) came on Wednesday in the MCAL semifinals against El Molino (17-11, 7-5), but the results have not been reported as of press time. Redwood hasn’t dropped a set to the out-of-county rivals this year. The league championship will be decided tonight at College of Marin, in which first-place Drake will most likely make an appearance.

As for Hochschild, his focus will be on running the offense, controlling the flow by dictating the speed and direction of kills with his sets. Positioned in the middle of the court, his jobs include reading the opposing team’s defense, determining where blockers are the weakest, and setting up his attackers while on the move.

“Geffen does a really good job of spreading out the offense and changing direction,” said teammate Jacob Zazzeron, a fellow senior who relies heavily on Hochschild for success as an outside hitter. “He’s really good at running one way, and then setting it back the other way so the opposing team isn’t ready to set their block on that side of the court.”

On nearly every play, the pressure falls on Hochschild to make split-second decisions about the speed and direction of the set.

“The ability to make decisions quickly is key to a good setter. Everything comes down to where they put the ball,” Zazzeron said. “He knows the game better than a lot of us do.”

Since the team lost last year’s MCAL Player of the Year Matt Pelfini, both coaches and teammates have stressed Hochschild’s expanded role as an emotional leader on the court.

“Geffen does a good job keeping things light and making sure underclassmen know that what happened the last play doesn’t matter,” Zazzeron said. “Whenever anyone makes an error, Geffen is the first person to calm them down and reassure them that it doesn’t matter and to get it next time. Vocally, he’s really loud––especially when good things happen.”

Like a dancing, inflated stick person outside of a desperate car dealership, Hochschild can be clumsy at times. But, similarly, he’s consistent, active, and unwavering in his ability to cheer others up.

“He’s gangly, and sometimes when he moves fast he goes flailing. He takes it with a grain of salt,” Coach Minakov said. “But I don’t think there’s any team out there in [NCS] that wouldn’t feel confident with Geffen out there.”