Published on December 3rd, 2012 | by Kevin Ryan0
Flyers Confident They Can Take Next Step
Kevin Ryan, Sports Editor
Lewis University’s men’s volleyball coach Dan Friend has had an interesting and exciting last eight months. He first led his Flyers to the NCAA Tournament semifinals in Los Angeles, and he was also named the head coach for the U.S. Boys Youth National Volleyball Team, which competed in Mexico over the summer.
“It was great,” Friend said of his experience leading team USA against Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. “I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with USA volleyball for the past eight years in different levels and capacities. This time I was the head coach, and that was a neat experience to be able to be the main guy. We had a great group of guys and went out and competed in Mexico for the NORCECA Championship and ended up taking bronze.”
Now that Friend is back at Lewis, his next task is to prepare the Flyers, who went 26-7 last season for the regular season. The team has seven new faces along with 15 players returning from last year.
“We return four out of seven starters, and at the same time we have 15 freshmen and sophomores,” Friend said. “So we’re pretty young in that sense with some of the stuff, but a good core group of guys have experience.
We had a really good fall, a lot of those young guys got a lot of touches and reps. Guys are battling for some starting spots, so I think we accomplished a lot and put ourselves in a good position in late December.”
Leading the Flyers this year are captains BJ Boldog, Brian Collins and Jay Petty. Last season, Boldog and Petty were both selected to the All-MIVA first team and were AVCA second team All-American selections.
“I think they all bring great things to the table,” Friend said about his captains. “I think they have different personalities, different strengths and they can feed off each other and ultimately make are team better.”
Also returning is sophomore Geoff Powell who was named 2012 MIVA Freshman of the Year and was a NCAA All Tournament selection, along with sophomore Greg Petty who was also a NCAA All Tournament selection.
When asked if he set the bar higher for Powell and Petty after having outstanding freshman years, Friend said, “We set the bar higher for the team automatically. Our guys are talking about trying to win a national championship. I think everybody’s got to raise their level of play, raise their intensity, work out even a little harder and bring a little but more to the team.”
The Flyers have been preparing for the 2013 season with a fall schedule that consisted of facing Loyola University, AIA Russia, the Red and Black Scrimmage and Lewis Invite that they hosted. All of the fall practice and scrimmages will benefit the Flyers as they start off their season on the road at the UCSB Invitational in Santa Barbara, Calif. Then they travel to Brigham Young University, Penn State and St. Francis University in Pennsylvania.
“Open up tough,” Friend said of the early schedule. “See where we’re at right in the beginning. We thought we’ve returned a good group of guys, we’re gonna throw these guys into battle right away and play some MPSF (Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) teams. We’re going out to Penn State and ultimately set the bar to see where we’re at out of the gate.”
The Flyers’ first home game will be on Jan. 26 when they host New Jersey Institute of Technology. The match will begin at 7 p.m., and they will also be honoring last year’s team by holding a ring ceremony.