Numbers spike in boys’ volleyball

Over the past few years, boys’ volleyball has been relatively unknown compared to other sports, especially girls’ volleyball. However, more recently, boys’ volleyball has been gaining popularity in many high schools in Marin. At Redwood, the social media presence of the volleyball team, their success this season, and an increase of fans being entertained by the sport, has led to a rise in the sport’s popularity.

New players have been joining the boys’ volleyball team at Redwood. The team has also brought in a new coach for this season, Ben Wang, who has been helping the new and returning players elevate their level of play throughout the season. Wang is a former division one athlete for the Men’s Volleyball team at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). While at UCLA, he helped the team win two national championships. Coach Wang has taken what he has learned in high school and at the collegiate level to try and help the Redwood team. Junior Brody Guerro, who joined the team this year, is someone who has personally received helpful advice and guidance from Wang. Guerro joined the team this year and has quickly become a starter. “He got us in shape… He got us to understand the game. He made it like a whole other class to take [by] giving us homework assignments and testing us on what to do,” Guerro said.

Another junior on the team, Ford Dresser, also began his volleyball career this year and views Wang as a mentor for the sport.

“Two-thirds of our team has never played [volleyball] before and Coach Wang has taught us a lot by being very easy to follow, ” said Dresser. 

With many new players this season, returning players were unsure about what was to come of the season. New players came to tryouts with an exciting attitude about learning the game, striving to become better.

“As we started playing, we got better so fast and people started showing up. We’ve definitely seen so many more people become more interested in it,” Guerro said. 

Pablo de Leon is a first-year player that has also seen an increase in fans over the season. 

“I for sure have seen it gain popularity around school, and I have definitely noticed more fans show up to our games as the season has progressed,” de Leon said. 

With more fans coming to games, the boys’ volleyball team has continued to grow. 

“We have had kids come to us wanting to play next year and are really looking forward to it,” Guerro said. 

The few returning players have started to see changes in how the program runs. Junior Graham Gumm, a Co-captain on the team, is only in his second season, but is one of the veteran players. 

 “We have been going to tournaments… outside of [the Marin County Athletic League or] MCAL,” Gumm said. “[We have been] practicing hard and learning about other teams.” 

The Redwood varsity boys’ volleyball team is currently in fourth place in the Marin County Athletic League and has a record of eight wins and six losses. Additionally, the team won the MCAL championship in 2016, 2017, and 2019 and are going for it again this year. 

The sport is gaining popularity because it is fast-paced and exciting. The average serve speed of a boys’ volleyball player ranges from 40-50 miles per hour. The players are constantly moving and it is necessary for them to work as a team. Junior and first-year volleyball player, Wyatt Marshall, was drawn to the sport and its fast play. With many new players such as Marshall, the team has needed to bond and adjust to achieve success.

“This year, we have gotten close [as a team]. We are all different people, but we all build off that to go on runs, and build team chemistry as we go,” Marshall stated.

Another reason why the sport has increased in popularity is because of social media platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok. The varsity boys’ volleyball team has an Instagram page with just under 100 followers. They frequently post game reminders and team updates. 

“On the Instagram page, many people come across our posts and show up to our games,” de Leon said. 

On a national level, social media is increasing the sports popularity and it looks like it will not be stopping anytime soon. Tune into the team’s upcoming playoffs games to see the new players and fans.