With a new head coach and a full roster returning, the Orange Lutheran boys volleyball team is ready to make some noise on the court this season.
Last year, after securing third place in Trinity League by way of a tiebreaker game over Mater Dei, the Lancers advanced to the second round of CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs before falling to Oak Park High School.
Without any graduating seniors in 2019, the varsity squad is returning a solid core group intact and will be led this year by seniors Blake Arnold, Will Harvey, Noah Heinicke, and Idean Shahbazian, as well as juniors Grant and Riley Oh and Connor Bloom.
At the helm beginning this season is Henry Valiente, who will now head up both the OLu boys and girls programs. With playing and coaching experience that extends from youth all the way through college, Valiente is excited to work with such a capable and close-knit group.
“It’s a great thing,” says Valiente. “They already have that bond since they’ve been together for quite awhile. I think it’s a smooth transition.”
Valiente’s goals are to continue the winning legacy of the program and infuse a culture of student leadership.
“I want to create a team culture where everyone feels that they are equal, putting in the hard work for the end result of team success,” says Valiente. “I want to give them that perspective so they can see the bigger picture in how to compete. And hopefully, that will cause our game to be even more elite.”
After a strong showing at tryouts, the Lancers will be fielding freshman, JV and varsity teams, with many coming in as multi-sport athletes. It is an approach that Valiente feels will be integral to the program’s long-term success.
The schedule kicks off this weekend as the varsity squad competes in the Tesoro Boys Volleyball Tournament. Valiente is confident the combination of depth and experience will produce an exciting year for the Lancers.
“Knowing how well we finished in CIF playoffs, and how they competed for third and won that tiebreaker game, and with everybody coming back, I’m sure we will be that much better,” says Valiente. “I just can’t wait.”