“One, two, three, STUY! Four, five, six, BEAST MODE!” The gym is filled with excitement, pride, and chants as the Beasts, Stuyvesant’s boys’ volleyball team, get ready to start their first scrimmage of the season against the Townsend Harris Hawks.
Last year, the Beasts were 2nd in their Manhattan A West division, with a record of 8 wins and 2 losses. Their two losses of the season were to High School of Environmental Studies, their longtime rivals. “Our rivalry with them is great. They’re a super fun team to play [with] and always really friendly, [giving] us a great match,” senior and co-captain Jackson Deysine said. Usually, the Beasts lose to Environmental due to slight mistakes during the end of sets. This year, the Beasts are hoping to finish their sets strong, playing hard until the end.
During last year’s postseason, the Beasts were seeded 15th and played their first postseason game against the Richmond Hill Lions, seeded 18th. The Beasts took first set, but lost the next two, ending the season with a 2-1 loss. Coach Vasken Choubaralian said, “Richmond Hill [high school beat us last year] in a difficult and upsetting loss in the first round of playoffs, even though we had beat them earlier in the season.”
“[I] hope to improve [the] team chemistry, since this is an entirely new starting unit,” senior and co-captain Isfar Patwary said. “It’s important to be comfortable with one another.”
Due to the departure of last year’s seniors, this year’s lineup will feature many new faces. Many players will need to step up to help the team and give their all. This year’s junior class especially will have to fill the gaps, but they have already become a growing presence in the team’s starting lineup and rotation. Choubaralian said, “Many of the current juniors played volleyball during the off-season and came back this year playing much better than last year. They also have great chemistry together, and that helps make the new line up a little easier.”
In the final moments of the first scrimmage, Stuyvesant was leading 22-19. Townsend was able to rally back, leading 24-25 after a swipe from their middle hitter Vickash Persaud. Throughout the game, Persaud was able to do a lot of damage to the Beasts, hitting the ball almost straight down whenever he could, and the Beasts could not retrieve his spikes. Stuyvesant lost the first set 25-27.
In the second scrimmage set, Stuyvesant switched up the lineup a little bit and was able to build a strong lead behind spikes by juniors Shun Bitar and Justin Chan. Townsend fell apart during the last few plays, allowing Stuyvesant to win the set 25-17, tying the scrimmage 1-1.
In the third and final scrimmage set, Stuyvesant and Townsend traded points one by one. The Beasts faced some tough service errors, putting the Hawks up 19-15. In the end, Stuyvesant would go on to lose their third set (and first scrimmage) 25-20.
Even though it was just a scrimmage and won’t count in the PSAL standings, the Beasts are still looking to improve. Choubaralian said, “The team really needs to improve their mental toughness and [show] greater resilience through tough moments. Another thing the team can benefit from is an increase in the ability to adapt to different game situations. This requires a heightened situational and game awareness.”
The Beasts were able to try out a few different lineups during the scrimmage. All seven juniors on the team rotated into the game, showing promise. Starters Deysine, Patwary, Bitar, and setter Ray Jones all showed a solid performance, contributing to the team in more ways than one.
The Beasts are also looking toward younger players, such as sophomores Kevin Mitchell and Dylan Kim. Mitchell, a second-year returner, says he will take whatever opportunity he receives to help the team: “I want to help the team [however] I can, whether that [is] coming off the bench or any [other] position [that will] best benefit the team.”
Newcomer Dylan Kim has already worked closely with players on the team, honing his skills in the winter to be able to join the team this spring. “I’m excited to have made this team. I am even more excited to work, bond, and play with the team this year. I can’t wait to train hard with them through thick and thin, get[ting] stronger together,” Dylan Kim said.
As the season progresses, all eyes will be on the team looking to make a playoff run. Junior Samuel Kim said, “My hopes for this team have always been the same. I think we all want to win the chip this year, just like all the years prior to ours, and I have faith that our team can pull it off this year.”