Houston Cup prepares boys’ volleyball for SPC

Gabe Malek, Business Manager/Copy Editor

Juniors Joseph Hanson (shown here) and Hunter Hasley finished with over 12 combined blocks.
Juniors Joseph Hanson (shown here) and Hunter Hasley finished with over 12 combined blocks.

As fans packed into Liu Court, the SJS boys’ volleyball team fought its way through one of their most important tournaments of the season: the Houston Cup.

SJS hosts the Houston Cup at the beginning of September each season. The tournament is a rare opportunity for fans to watch the team play since the Mavericks normally have few home games. This year, the Mavericks finished in third place, losing a close match to St. Mark’s in the semifinals 2-0. St. Mark’s took first place, beating Greenhill in the championship.

“I thought we played really well, and even though we didn’t get the results we wanted, we showed that we can hang with the best teams in SPC [Southwest Preparatory Conference],” captain Marcus Manca said.

Although the game against St. Mark’s may have been the most crucial, most of the players agree that the pool play game against Greenhill Friday night was the most intense.

“It was a chance of redemption from our loss to them last weekend. The third set was so insane, everybody was frosty not wanting to make mistakes. Even though we lost, it was definitely the best and most exciting game we’ve played so far,” right side hitter Brandon Alston said.

Some members of the team thought the support from fans pushed them during their pool play games.

“[The fans] definitely gave us a boost. For a change, we had a crowd there to support us and give us energy,” Alston said. “Against Greenhill they were extremely important because as a team we feed off the energy. Without them I think we wouldn’t have played as well as we did.”

Head coach Chaz Hulett thought the tournament was helpful for improving basic technique.

Junior Marcus Manca finished the tournament with over 12 combined blocks.
Junior Marcus Manca finished the tournament with over 35 kills. (Emily Ragauss)

“We started to understand team defense, and it showed against the stronger-hitting teams,” Hulett said. “We also started cleaning up our serving errors to a more respectable amount as we proceeded through the tournament.”

Some players thought the Houston Cup helped give the team greater motivation for future games.

“We know what to work on for upcoming games and, more importantly, the SPC tournament,” Alston said. “We won’t let another tournament slip through our fingers because this time it’s personal.”

Ultimately, the tournament proved to be a confidence boost for the Mavericks.

“We have shown that we can compete with the best teams in SPC. Despite our losses to St. Mark’s and Greenhill this past weekend, the scores of both matches reveal that neither team walked away with the win without fighting for it,” outside hitter Billy Guo said. “I have high hopes for our performance in South Zone play and our chances at taking the SPC championship. Don’t count us out of the running just yet.”