Beasts Ace in Yo Face
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In their sixth game of the boys’ varsity volleyball season, the Stuyvesant Beasts faced the High School for Math, Science, and Engineering (HSMSE) at home on Monday, April 17. The Beasts felt confident heading into the game, having handily defeated HSMSE just a few weeks before. Yet after a 25-15 win in the first set, a close second set threatened to mar their perfect record. In an exciting test of stamina, Stuyvesant led 25-24 but needed to win by two. Tensions were high as each team attempted to win two successive points, a back-and-forth battle until the Beasts finally finished off HSMSE, 30-28.
The fortitude exemplified in this game is a defining characteristic of this year’s team. Last year, the Beasts were defeated in the first round of the Manhattan A II playoffs in two close sets by eventual league champions, James Madison. Having won all preceding games in just two sets, the fall was a disappointing end to the Beasts’ flawless season. Now, they are back with fresh jerseys and fresh mindsets, determined to transcend last year’s shortcomings. Led by Coach Vasken Choubaralian and senior co-captains setter Nurdaulet Kaishibayev and outside hitter David Tang, the Beasts are roaring with success.
Loaded with talented players, the Beasts are dominating league statistics. Kaishibayev leads in assists, Tang leads in kills, and sophomore libero Jacob Shinn leads in aces. The Beasts are ranked first in their league, undefeated once again, and have dropped only one set in seven games so far. In addition to the outstanding skill level they exhibit, this year’s Beasts have a fresh spirit. “The energy on the team is much better this year. We’re far more positive, and we have more fun, especially during games,” Choubaralian said. One manifestation of this spirited shift is visible in their new uniforms. Designed by their current captains, the Beasts sport unique, artful jerseys and bright blue shorts spotted with rubber duckies.
In addition to the pulsating team energy, the captains attribute the team’s success to a killer offense and standout defense rooted in strong passing. “We have a solid defense, probably the best in the city,” Tang said. The strength of their defense comes from the Beasts’ ability to utilize each player’s individual strengths to better the team as a whole. Though their early success has motivated them to work to maintain their winning streak, it is not without sacrifice. Being a Beast is no small commitment; practice is daily and often goes late, and away games can begin as late as 5:30 p.m.
At each of their practices, the team starts with ball control drills before shifting to focus on more specific aspects of the game, such as digging and setting. Through all of this, Choubaralian highlighted their consistently positive energy on and off the court. “It’s a good time. They joke, it’s lighthearted, even when they’re playing, which is a good thing. It’s just fun to be around this group,” Choubaralian said.
With this in mind, the Beasts have high hopes to exceed last year’s brief playoff appearance. “I would like to get at least a top-10 seed in the city. I think that is easily attainable,” Choubaralian said. And with many freshmen and sophomores on this year’s team, such as statistical king Shinn, the Beasts have set themselves up for future success.
“As a team, I want to work on building the next generation of volleyball players for the Beasts. Not only are they going to be able to play with us later in the season, but also, they are going to be able to play with themselves, once we’re gone,” Kaishibayev said. The Beasts are more than prepared for an egg-cellent season.