Moorpark Raiders men’s volleyball team return with new beginnings after shortened 2020 season

Sophomore+Ryan+Horan+leaps+up+to+tip+the+ball+over+the+defenders+during+Moorpark%27s+home+game+against+Irvine+Valley+College+on+Wednesday%2C+Feb.+19%2C+2020.+Photo+credit%3A+Evan+Reinhardt

Sophomore Ryan Horan leaps up to tip the ball over the defenders during Moorpark’s home game against Irvine Valley College on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

By Leonard Cardilino

The Moorpark Raiders men’s volleyball team had a record of 7-4 last year and was good for sixth place in the state, before having their season cut short in March due to the pandemic. This semester, they are looking to build off of their shown improvement last year with a younger team.

Sophomore outside hitter, Dakota Deuter, and sophomore libero, Arnel Skillman, are the two key players returning this season. Last season, Deuter had 0.65 blocks per set and eighth overall. Skillman averaged 0.20 assists per set in the eight matches he played last year.

Head Coach Aaron Hedland believes the Raiders have a very promising team this season.

“We are very lucky to have 18 committed student-athletes on our roster this year that have stuck it out, despite not being able to practice their sport indoors for almost a year,” Hedland said. “That isn’t to say we haven’t lost some valued teammates to the challenging conditions of the pandemic.”

Moorpark College Athletic Director Matt Crater seemed optimistic about the new-look volleyball squad.

“We have a great coach in Aaron Hedland and a great group of student-athletes. It is going to be fun to watch them develop,” Crater said. “Our students work incredibly hard to have these moments.”

The Raiders were anxious to get into action for last Friday night’s scrimmage against Antelope Valley. The athletes played the indoor game with masks on at Moorpark College.

Hedland explained that all of the guys on both sides of the net were full of excitement and nerves.

Freshman outside hitter, Kenneth Schwartz, showed tremendous hustle in the outing with several diving efforts. Near the middle of the third set, freshman players Jaxon Rust and Connor Johnson displayed excellent teamwork when they executed a grand spike to take a decisive lead. Moorpark went on to win the match with a final score of 3-1 after the momentous play.

Schwartz believes the team is getting on track to perform at their highest level.

“Adjustment wise, the transition hasn’t been too difficult,” Schwartz said. “I don’t feel like we’ve been given a lot of time inside the gym in order to get where we want to be, but we’re definitely working hard in order to get to where we need to be, in order to really compete this year.”

The adversity the team has faced hasn’t slowed down their determination to play competitive volleyball again. There is a sense of new beginnings and a breath of fresh air within the program to finally be back.

The Raiders will visit California Lutheran University on Friday, April 16 at 5 p.m. to play their season opener. Their next home game is against Santa Barbara City College on Wednesday, April 21 at 6 p.m.