2014-10-29 / Sports

Cosby’s spike

Volleyball team is perfect – so far
By Jim McConnell

Cosby's Tyler Jones pounds the ball past a Monacan blocker during a match last week. 
Jim McConnell/Chesterfield Observer Cosby's Tyler Jones pounds the ball past a Monacan blocker during a match last week. Jim McConnell/Chesterfield Observer Cosby High’s boys volleyball team has been a model of consistency over the past five years.

Four times in that span, the Titans have advanced to the state semifinals.

They’ve played for a state title twice – falling to Clover Hill in 2009 and Frank Cox in 2012.

All that’s left to do now is win one.

“Our goal every year is to play our last match at the Siegel Center,” Cosby coach Frank Jenkins said, referring to the VCU arena that annually hosts the final four of Virginia high school volleyball.

“We’ve been fortunate to be able to do that regularly,” he added. “We’ve had some very talented players. But the times we lost in the finals, we got beat by better teams.”

Could this be the year the Titans finally break through?

After beating Clover Hill and Monacan last week, Cosby took a 22-0 record into Tuesday’s regular-season finale against Midlothian.

The Titans have faced high-level competition at tournaments in Richmond and Virginia Beach, and they’ve managed to stay unbeaten despite playing most of the season without two starters: setter Stephen Porras and middle hitter Adam Schneider, both of whom just recently returned from back injuries.

“I don’t know that we’re great at anything, but we’ve been really good at every aspect of the game,” Jenkins said.

Unlike previous Cosby teams, this year’s squad doesn’t feature an array of towering front-line players, an unstoppable outside hitter or a server capable of simply blowing opponents off the court.

What it lacks in overwhelming physical assets, it makes up for in chemistry.

“The whole team just clicks,” said senior Tyler Jones, who led the Titans with 11 kills against Clover Hill. “We hang out together after school. We’re all friends. We try to get better every game and have some fun while we’re doing it.”

Senior Noah Bennett credited Cosby’s success to hard work and a refusal to become complacent as the victories have piled up.

“There are always things we can do better – coach lets us know that every day in practice,” he added.

Jones noted that he and his teammates take pride in trying to live up to the standard of excellence established by past Cosby squads.

That standard is reinforced by the many volleyball alumni who return to the school over the summer to play pickup matches with current players.

But Jenkins insisted that the only expectation for every Cosby volleyball player is to give 100 percent effort and focus every time they step on the court.

“We might not be the most athletic team or the most experienced, but if we can get everybody’s best, a lot of times that’s going to be good enough to win,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate that the kids have bought into that mentality.”

Last season, Cosby struggled at times but caught fire at just the right time, knocking off an undefeated Deep Run team in the Central Zone semifinals to earn its fourth state tournament berth.

This time around, the Titans enter the postseason wearing a bull’s-eye.

“It’s always your goal to have a perfect season,” Bennett said. “We’ve worked hard and earned it – so far.”

Indeed, the operative words for Jenkins are “so far.”

“We never talk about going undefeated – we just try to stay focused on the process of getting better,” he said. “We hope to be one of the teams that peaks at the end.”

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