Cape Girardeau boys club volleyball team headed to national tournament in Salt Lake City
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – It has been a dream first season as a head coach for Emmanuel Reyes.
His NSSC 18U boys volleyball team has qualified for the Boys Junior National Championship this summer in Salt Lake City after winning a qualifying tournament in St. Louis.
“I’ve never been to Utah before, never been to Salt Lake City, but I’m excited,” Reyes said.
Reyes is just 21 years old, and multiple players said having a younger coach helps them relate to him.
“I think he gets our nerves and our emotions very well, and I think that helps us in the long run,” outside hitter Andrew Jones said.
“It’s not as intimidating as having someone that’s a lot older, and he’s helped us grow, and he’s had experience with this, so it’s really helped us,” setter Lawson Blocker said.
The team is chalk full of personalities, like Cameron Williams, a 6 foot 8 inch middle blocker who also plays for the Cape Girardeau Central High School basketball team.
This is his first season playing volleyball, and he said balancing the two sports has become easier with time.
“I wake up every morning at 4:30, and that’s how I start my day. I go work out. I go to school. I go to practice. Then I’ll come here,” he said. “My body is used to it now where I can just wake up and do it all over again.”
On the opposite end of the experience spectrum, Jones has been playing volleyball for four years.
“I’m one of the communicators on the team,” he said. “I’m constantly talking, telling people how we should do things, how we should work through problems, and just try to keep everybody sane and still have fun.”
NSSC Volleyball Club Director Carl Ritter says this team could be a springboard for boys volleyball in the area.
“This team is very young, and they’re having to play 18U, and earning the bid they’ve earned and beating some of the high-performance teams out of St. Louis to earn this bid has made a big statement, and I think it’s going to carry on more and more to boys around here to realize that hey, this is a great sport and is a great opportunity for scholarships,” he said.
Like Reyes and several other players, Williams has never been to Utah.
“Never seen the mountains, never skied, nothing,” he said. “Only snow I’ve ever seen is in Missouri.”
And while Williams and the rest of the team probably won’t have to deal with any snow, they will certainly be bringing home some memories and, who knows, maybe a national championship.