The High Flyers 181-M volleyball team could just as easily be called the road warriors.
As the only boys team in Nebraska in its age group, the Lincoln squad is used to traveling to competition. The closest tournament is 450 miles away.
This year, the High Flyers went to national qualifiers in northern California, Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis. They flew to Anaheim last week for the Southern Cal pre-national tournament.
They’ll finish up at the USAV boys junior nationals in Reno., Nev., starting Thursday.
The High Flyers, 28-20 and ranked sixth nationally, will be making their fifth appearance in a row. They could be the top seed in the club division, coach Greg MacLean said.
Many years the High Flyers competed with just six players, but now they actually have a libero. Players usually hear about the team from a friend and are curious enough to come to a practice.
MacLean said he’ll have at least three spots open for next year.
“Once we get kids in the gym and they have some success, they get hooked on it,’’ MacLean said. “Some recognize it’s a unique opportunity.’’
MacLean’s son Jack and neighbor Ben Crusinberry started playing volleyball in the backyard when they were nine. Now both are heading to college. MacLean, a Lincoln Southeast graduate and setter, will play at McKendree University in Illinois. He averages more than 11 assists per set. Crusinberry, an opposite-side hitter from Lincoln East, is going to Hunter University in New York. He’s hit .400 over the past two seasons.
Because there are so few players — most teams have as many as 13 — the High Flyers need to excel at every position.
“They are what we call six-skilled players,’’ MacLean said. “They all have to block, hit and serve. That’s a big reason for our overall success. All the players have had to develop all their skills over the years. What we lack in size, we make up for it with super ball handling and a quick offense.’’
The High Flyers finished fifth last year and Jack MacLean made the all-tournament team.
Despite bringing in two new players again this season, both at 16 playing up two age divisions, coach MacLean has high hopes for the High Flyers.
“We stack up pretty well,’’ he said.
The roster: S: Jack MacLean, Lincoln Southeast (McKendree University). OH: Ben Crusinberry, Lincoln East (Hunter University). OH: Simon Bruckner, Lincoln Pius X; Jace Anderson, Lincoln Southeast. MH: Cole Chancellor, Lincoln Christian; Grant Jackman, Lincoln East. L: Jared Williams, Lincoln North Star.
Contact the writer: