As with many high school sports in Arizona, boys volleyball is rapidly growing in both talent and depth.
The season is well underway, but here's a quick glance at a few notable East Valley players worth watching in the spring of 2014:
Kameron Casey, MB, Chandler: Already off to a solid start with a 44 percent hitting rate, the 6-foot-7, 190-pounder already has 88 kills for the Wolves alongside Corey Simon. Casey makes Chandler’s offense run.
Brian Dang, OH, Campo Verde: The senior is already the school’s single-season and career record holder for kills and now takes on an increased leadership role under first-year coach Tori Figg.
Saige Gonzalves, OH, Hamilton: On a team loaded with hitters (Brian Campbell, Matt Baca and Scottie Wiest) it’s Gonzalves’ digs, passing and serving which make this machine go; the unseen-yet-noteworthy plays that makes an elite team a championship team.
JT Hatch, OH, Mesa: His talent is immense, as is his competitiveness. The UCLA-bound Hatch had 214 kills, 61 blocks and 58 aces as a junior despite also being a fill-in setter because of injuries, has more help this year on a talented, veteran roster. Controlling his emotions and staying on an even-keel will be critical, because teammates will follow.
Jacob Komenda, OH, Mesa: A first-team All-City selection last year as the team’s opposite hitter, he could reap more rewards with teams focused on Hatch on the attack. Coach Tony Millanes believes Komenda is as good as anyone in the state.
Wyatt Lowell, OH, Gilbert: His basketball game took a step forward this season, and the sophomore could do the same in volleyball with his size (6-foot-9, 190 pounds). He’s capable of taking over matches while Preston Johnson helps set him up.
Mark Olsen, MB, Mountain View: The 6-foot-7 led Arizona in blocks with 132 (according to MaxPreps) as a junior, and his senior year will expand his game next to senior Travis Tanner and junior OH Luke Schill with five Toros starters back from last year.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune assistant managing editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.