The Beasts of Stuy

Meet the boys’ varsity volleyball team captains.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Cover Image
By Sophia Mueller

Name: Nurdaulet Kaishibayev

Grade: Senior

Height: 5’ 10”

Hair Color: Black

Eye Color: Black

Date of Birth: May 24, 2004

Name: David Tang

Grade: Senior

Height: 5’ 10”

Hair Color: Brown 

Eye Color: Brown

Date of Birth: June 3, 2005

  1. When and how did you start playing volleyball? How long have you been on the Beasts, the Stuyvesant boys’ varsity volleyball team?

N: So, for me at least, I started playing volleyball [during my] freshman year, like the end of first semester, the beginning of second semester. I wanted to try out for a sports team because that’s one thing I wanted to do in high school. So I think I chose volleyball for two main reasons. One was definitely Haikyuu! It really got us hyped and, you know, we watched anime a lot so that definitely contributed to our interest. But also, I was just randomly watching Olympic videos and stumbled across volleyball. And so I thought, yeah, this is really cool. So I joined the Beasts my freshman year. So I’m guessing this is my fourth year? Yeah, technically third or fourth year.

D: I started in eighth grade. I was on my middle school team. I’ve been playing since freshman year. My mom used to play in high school and she would tell me “I was the captain back then,” so you know, I have to carry on the legacy.

  1. Do you participate on an outside team, and how does your experience on the Stuyvesant team differ? 

N: I currently play in NYC VBA, which is a club team in New York City. It’s a pretty new, recent team but the difference between the experience of playing with those guys and the experience of playing with the Beasts is definitely noticeable. Everyone there is honestly really experienced and skilled, whereas, on the Beasts, we usually take a lot of new members and then kind of train them. On NYC VBA, obviously, we still have people, including myself, who are still developing their skills. But I want to say that the level of play is way higher there. You kind of have more expectations of people. And there are also people who have a lot more expectations of you, compared to Stuyvesant, where you still have great expectations, but then you’re not expecting them to do super amazing things. Because, you know, they’re starters, and they’re still learning.

D: I play on the same club team as Nurd. And yeah, I think it’s definitely a different level. It's definitely way more competitive, I would say. And I think our team definitely has a lot of people that just play for fun, I guess. But for our club, it’s more serious, in a way. And yeah, I think there’s definitely a skill gap between the two. So, we kind of have a few club players on our team, and so I think the club players on our team definitely try to help out the other kids on our team, like the newer players.

  1. Do you have a most memorable/proud moment with the Beasts?

N: I want to say last year, when we went undefeated in the regular season. We went 10-0. Unfortunately, we did end up getting defeated in the second or third round of playoffs, but a lot of the guys were coming back from COVID, [a time when] they obviously weren’t playing, and in our first year back, we went undefeated. I wasn’t only proud of myself, but I was also really, really proud of the team and the progress we’ve made.

D:  I would probably say the same thing: going undefeated. I think our last league game––I remember it was really close. We called a timeout and we’re in a huddle, and our coach goes, “Nurd just set the ball to David, and David finish it off”. And after we came out of the timeout that’s exactly what happened, and we ended up winning by one point. So that’s my proudest moment.

  1. What are the best and worst parts of volleyball? 

N: The best version of volleyball is when you’re winning. But for me, volleyball is the thing that I was able to find peace in and discover myself and my rhythm. Freshman year and sophomore year, when we were kind of transitioning through COVID, it was really tough being at home all the time and not being able to do your hobby. I was introduced to the world of club volleyball and college and professional volleyball. There’s just so much stuff out there you can consume, and it never gets old. [...] If I’m feeling down, I just go play some volleyball on the courts, and [I] feel better. With that said, I feel like it can really start to get in your head when you start messing up. [...] When I start to kind of be more inconsistent and start messing up more, I put more pressure on myself. And because volleyball is a team sport, you can only touch the ball once. I feel like your job as a team player becomes just that much more important. So any mistakes that you make could really reflect heavily on the team, and I feel like that kind of mental pressure can get to you sometimes.

D: The best thing about volleyball is probably building connections with your teammates until it’s a big family. Because I know from my club team, we’re a really tight-knit family. We always help each other out, even outside of volleyball. So, here too, we’re trying to build these connections with each other. And, we’re trying to build our own Beasts family. I think the worst thing about volleyball is how much time it takes up because I have spent so much time playing volleyball, between club and school, and even playing for fun. It’s a really big part of my life. I could have probably spent it doing work or something.

  1. Do you have a service routine? What is it?

N: I personally don’t have a service routine. My go-to service is a float. But sometimes, randomly, I take the ball and just hit it down against the floor a couple times and then just serve.

D: I take the ball. I dribble it five times. And then I serve. I don’t know why. That’s just what I go with. Every time when I go back to the line, people will be making noise, and that’s my way of zoning in. And then, if I’m thinking topspin, I hold the ball out [...] and take a deep breath before I refresh.

  1. Do you have any pregame superstitions or rituals?

N: We tried to visualize a lot. Anytime it’s an important match, on the way there and when we have some free time, we close our eyes, relax to meditation music, and try to visualize what we’re going to do on the court. And that’s it. I’m going to hit it straight down. And the point is to really specifically visualize how you’re going to do it. Let it flow through you, and feel how your hands are going to move everything, down to the last bit. And the cheer, too. It’s a thing that we invented last year with Deven Maheshwari (‘22) when he was a captain: the SpongeBob cheer. And that always got us in the mood.

D: I always say visualization, too. I just put my headphones in. I’ve let it blast rap, or R&B, or even classical, like Mozart or Beethoven. I just close my eyes and visualize what I’m going to do there in the game.


Funniest Teammate: Aidan Chan

Favorite VB Player: Micah Christenson

Brand of VB Shoes: Nike

Favorite Sports Drink: Green Gatorade

Favorite Post-Game Snack: Sweet Green

Jersey Number: 11

Motto to Live By: Be yourself… life gives you lemon 

Fun Fact: I’m from Kazakhstan.

Favorite Chant: Who let the dogs out.


Funniest Teammate: Aidan Chan

Favorite VB Player: Yūki Ishikawa 

Brand of VB Shoes: New Balances

Favorite Sports Drink: Light Blue Gatorade

Favorite Post-Game Snack: Sweet Green

Jersey Number: 13

Motto to Live By: You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.

Fun Fact: I am a TikToker.

Favorite Chant: Who let the dogs out.