John Heath

John Heath goes up for a kill in Zionsville’s win over Covenant Christian last year. He will be the key returning player for the Eagles volleyball team this year.

There is going to be a new look for the Zionsville boys volleyball team this year.

After losing nearly all of their team to graduation next year, the Eagles will be welcoming virtually a brand-new varsity team this year, but head coach Matthew Nance has liked the progress so far from the group.

“I am really excited to see this group grow and develop this year,” Nance said. “We lost 10 seniors last year, and it’s always tough when you lose a group like that. We do have a couple of varsity guys coming back, and they are really shoring up what options we have and what we can expand on.”

While a lot of the team will be making their varsity debuts when the season starts next week, Nance said he isn’t lowering his goals for this season.

He said he has confidence the group will come together when the season got underway.

“I don’t feel a pressure necessarily, but the talent is there,” Nance said. “It is about how quickly can we make them grow and get to a place where they are producing at a high level. We always say we are playing for May. So we may take some losses early, but those are things we are going to work through and learn from and hopefully get ready for a state tournament in May.”

One thing that will help with the transition into varsity volleyball for the a lot of the new players is they are coming in with a better foundation than they have in years past.

“It does seem like guys are coming in with more knowledge,” Nance said. “I don’t know if it is the club system, or from playing with friends and family, but they realize boys volleyball is a sport for them. We have a couple this year, that have just played with friends and family, and our discovering the sport at the high school level too.”

The Eagles do have some experience back that is going to help lead the team this year.

Nance said some of the players will have more advanced roles this year.

“John Heath is a middle blocker, and had a lot of starting time in that role last year,” Nance said. “He is going to be a big net presence for us. Justin Jehl is a sophomore and he was a serving and defensive specialist that played a role, but it will be a bigger role this year. We have some other guys too that will step into bigger roles.”

When looking at the strengths of the team, one of the things that stands out about the Eagles is their overall size and athleticism.

This installment of the team has a different make-up than most of the volleyball teams that have come through Zionsville in the past couple of years.

“There is a lot of size,” Nance said. “We grew a lot with the new players we have. The 10 seniors were all around 6-feet, and we have taller guys now and that size is going to be big for us. We have a few really good athletes this year. Guys who play other sports and they will shore up some athletic things.

“Size allows us to move guys around and try different positions. It is fun to look up in a huddle and see them, that’s a different feeling. I’m excited for the year.”

The Eagles open up the season on March 14 when they host the Zionsville Quad.

Nance said in the last few practices before the season opener, the Eagles are going to focus on figuring out the line-up.

“We are going to start figuring out what the line-up might be on the court and playing together on the floor,” Nance said. “This group hasn’t played as a full unit that much, so that will be important for us to figure out in the next couple of weeks.”

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Zionsville Times Sentinel and Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Zionsville Times Sentinel and Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.

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