Volleyball and boys soccer bring powerful postseason performances

Sports

After stellar regular season performances, KO’s varsity volleyball team and boys varsity soccer team earned spots in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference playoffs.

Ahead of the 2022 season, the boys varsity soccer team was projected to finish 27th out of 27 teams in NEPSAC Class B. Led by Head Coach Hikmet Aslan and Assistant Coach Matteo Cavaliere, the team beat all odds, achieving the sixth seed in the playoffs. Despite graduating 17 seniors last year, this season was a far cry from a ‘rebuilding year.’ The team excelled in conference play and exceeded expectations, entering the postseason with a record of 10-6-2 and making history as the first KO boys soccer team to earn a playoff spot in more than 10 years.

The varsity volleyball team, led by Head Coach Scott McDonald and Assistant Coaches Ryan Radmanovich and Cameron Biondi, had a remarkable 2022 season. The girls entered the quarterfinals with a 16-3 record, with many decisive matches against highly ranked opponents and Founders League foes. With their hard-earned second seed, the varsity volleyball team had the opportunity to host both their quarterfinal and semifinal matches in Hewett Gym, the perfect reward for their undefeated record at home.

Ahead of their quarterfinal match against third-seed Brooks School, Coach Aslan discussed his outlook for the boys varsity soccer team. “For me, the team putting in their best effort is number one,” Coach Aslan noted. “This is our first time playing in the playoffs in 10 years, and we are going to battle and use our chance as much as we can.” Despite entering as the underdog, senior left back Andrés Rollán shared that the team was very optimistic heading into the match. “I’m very excited to be able to go to the playoffs and I think that we’re going to do much better than what other teams expect,” he said.

Senior center-back Co-captain Max Sams discussed the team’s gratitude and strategy heading into the quarterfinals.“Having this opportunity is very exciting,” he said. “Offensively, we look to go into the game with high energy and hopefully score early, because that will help us and give us the best opportunity to win. Defensively, we hope to keep a clean sheet and play smart out of the back. Brooks is a very talented team that has scored many goals, so our goal is to hold them to a minimum.”

Following a remarkable regular season, Coach McDonald shared high hopes for the varsity volleyball team as they entered the quarterfinals. “My goal is obviously for us to be New England Champions,” Coach McDonald said with a smile, “and why set a goal below that? We naturally have expectations and hopes for how this will all go, but I think the positivity will be there as long as we feel like we did everything we could and we played our best.”

Heading into the postseason, Coach McDonald noted that the varsity volleyball team was hard at work practicing their blocking and back-row defense to prepare to face highly ranked teams with strong offenses. “Regardless of the outcome of any of the matches, I think that we really can end the season on a positive note just because of how the regular season went,” he said. “I want us to show up and be our best, and may the best team win.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the boys varsity soccer team made the two-and-a-half-hour trip up to Brooks School, where they fell 3-0. Brooks ended up advancing to the finals where they took home the NEPSAC Class B boys soccer championship. KO’s hard-fought effort against the worthiest of opponents is surely something to celebrate. Senior forward Co-captain Mac Louis echoed these sentiments. “We were projected to be dead last heading into the season, and we became the sixth seed in the playoffs,” he reflected. “We fought a really hard game, and the score did not reflect the outcome of the game and how hard we worked.”

Back on the home front, the Wyvern volleyball team took on seventh-seed Worcester Academy on Wednesday, Nov. 16. The two teams met earlier in the season, where KO prevailed 3-1. In front of a supportive home crowd and through a united effort, the varsity volleyball team swept the Rams 3-0.

In hopes of capping off their undefeated season at home with a final victory, the varsity volleyball team hosted third seed St. Luke’s School on Saturday, Nov. 19. KO earned a decisive away win against St. Luke’s earlier in the season, but with both teams vying to advance to the finals, the Wyverns knew this win wouldn’t be easy. In a five-set thriller, the Wyverns earned a glorious 3-2 win against St. Lukes, a true display of the team’s grit and determination.

Senior outside hitter Co-captain Keira Sullivan touched on the intensity of the match. “It was a very hard-fought win for us,” Sullivan said. “St. Luke’s is a really great competitor and they were able to step it up in the third and fourth sets, which I don’t think we were necessarily expecting. Ultimately the game came down to the fifth set, and even that was a battle. I think that the entire game, but especially the fifth set, was a major team effort, and ultimately the results of the match showed that.”

On Sunday, Nov. 20, the Wyverns faced off against the undefeated King School, a powerhouse team seeking their fourth Class B championship, in the NEPSAC Class B finals. A reprise of their 2019 NEPSAC finals faceoff, the Wyverns entered the game as the underdogs. “Heading into the finals we were obviously looking to add to our success,” Sullivan said, “but we really just wanted to end the season playing great, competitive volleyball and having fun with the team.” The King Vikings prevailed with a 3-0 win, with each set’s score coming down to thin point differentials, a much closer match than their earlier faceoff that signified KO’s spectacular growth throughout the season.

Senior setter Co-captain Jill Plaut reflected on the team’s performance. “We fought all the way to the end to finish off the season strong,” Plaut said. “Although we fell to King, we put up great competition and played our game.” Sullivan shared similar sentiments of gratitude for the team’s historic season. “As captains, Jill and I couldn’t be prouder of how this season has gone and all of the progress the team has made.”

Through their historic achievements, determination, and united successes, KO’s varsity volleyball team and boys varsity soccer team represented Wyvern athletics remarkably on the New England stage.