Like most spring athletics, the Saint Ignatius High School volleyball program has not played a regular-season game since 2019. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 season fell to cancelation. The door has been opened for new beginnings with the volleyball program with first-year Head Volleyball Coach Dominick Adornato ’11. Adornato and the Cats have been working hard in Murphy and Sullivan Gym before starting the 2021 regular-season opener.
The Wildcats first serve will come on Friday, March 26 at 7 p.m. from Sullivan Gym, and what better way to begin the season than to play host to your rival, the St. Edward Eagles. “Being an Ignatius alumnus, this is always the biggest game of the year,” says Adornato. “My excitement is through the roof to begin this season.”
The Wildcats have some high flyers around the net that will be impact players throughout the season. Senior middle blocker Danny Salem can jump out of the gym when it comes to a kill on an offensive possession. Salem looks to be an integral part of the Wildcat offense with outside hitter Andrew Boeckman. Unfortunately, Boeckman will miss the first few contests of the season with an injury but is optimistic about rejoining the team soon.
“Atmosphere at practice on and off the court has been positive,” explains Boeckman. “The biggest thing with this team is the chemistry; our high energy and comradery have been awesome.”
Daniel echoes the motto of a high-energy team for the season opener vs. St. Edward, “not having last season makes us even more excited for this season,” says Salem. “We are excited to play Ed’s; the energy has been great this whole week.”
Senior libero James Thoma, similar to his teammates, is thrilled at the opportunity of the season, “there is an added excitement with the rivalry with ed’s,” explains Thoma. “We have kept that same energy, and we’re going to do that all season.”
With a new head coach, there was the obstacle of learning a new offense and play style for the season; however, the players adapted under Adornato’s wing and excelled in practice. “We have been high tempo, high energy, we are focused for this season as a whole,” explains Adornato. “I can’t say enough about the hard work these guys have put in this past month; these guys have adapted to a whole new offense we are going to run, and it is impressive.”
Along with the knowledge on the court, the Wildcats have gelled off the court and built a strong bond before the start of the season. “Building the team community,” says Boeckman. “Trusting your teammates no matter of talent level or age has helped us.”
With this brand new season enters more challenges. The current seniors have not played a game in the Saint Ignatius uniform since their sophomore season. The current freshman and sophomores have yet to play their first high school match. The seniors on the roster have stepped up, mentoring the young players on the team.
“It is a big jump for some of the younger guys,” says Thoma. “Helping them with positioning is a big part with the sophomores and freshmen, but they are showing up big.”
“Trying to help mentor those young guys,” explains Salem. “Some have yet to play for the program, and we want to help them get into this sport and build this program.”
All of the players and coaches are on the same page and have their eye on one goal: to win a state championship. “The goal is always states,” says Adornato. “I think we have the team to compete for states.”
“The biggest goal is to win states; I think if we keep this high-intensity training and practice, we have the opportunity to do that,” Boeckman explains. ‘We want to sweep the north, to focus on those integral games that will help us for the tough teams down south and get us ready for a state-run.”
The Wildcats will begin that quest for a state championship starting on Friday vs. St. Edward. The SIBN will have live coverage from Sullivan gym of coach Adornato’s first game as the new Head Volleyball Coach. The first set will be at 7 p.m. after the conclusion of the JV contest vs. the Eagles.