Boys’ Volleyball Fights Through Rebuilding Year


Carly Philpott

Senior middle blocker Ian Van Hare (#14) hypes up the team circle before the Pac the Place home game versus Grandview on March 28. The team, under the leadership of senior captains Lukas Rhoades (#12) and Zack Filene (#10), as well as other seniors, has worked hard to build community after 60% of the team graduated last season. “I would say the most important part of this season was connecting with each other and figuring out different positions, because myself included, we all were playing different positions [this year],” Filene said.

Carly Philpott, Editor-in-Chief

The 2022 season had a bittersweet end for boys’ volleyball. Going into state playoffs ranked first, Creek finished in second place, losing to Discovery Canyon.

“We definitely wanted more going into the state finals ranked first,” senior captain and outside hitter Zack Filene said. “There was a pressure on us to win. I would say that I’m content with second. But I definitely wanted to win.”

But the 2022 finale was also difficult for a bigger reason: six seniors were leaving out of the ten-person team. Losing the six seniors was difficult, according to head coach Cara Quayle.

“There were probably four or five [team] leaders [among] those seniors, if not all six of them,” Quayle said. Both captains last year were also seniors. “All the players on the team had known each other for a while, and so there was leadership, but there was also a comfortable feeling because they were used to playing together.”

This year, the new seniors, including Filene and his co-captain, Lukas Rhoades, have stepped up to preserve that feeling as much as possible.

“We all had the same mindset coming into the season, which was grow the kids that didn’t play varsity last year and develop as a team,” Filene said. “I would say the most important part of this season was connecting with each other and figuring out different positions, because myself included, we all were playing different positions [this year].”

Quayle believes that Rhoades and Filene have both stepped up and become strong team leaders in what she refers to as a “rebuilding year.”

“I see both of them talking to other players on the court about who the hitters on the other side are, about where to be – they’re just always talking,” Quayle said. “The new players really respect them. I can tell [the team] that we’re making progress, but I think it means more to the team when they hear it from Lukas and Zack.”

Freshman libero Noah Reynolds, the only one of his year on the varsity team, also said that Rhoades and Filene have been quintessential in building his season.

“Lukas and Zach have helped me navigate my first year of high school and especially my first year on the team,” Reynolds said via text. “They have both shown me how Creek Men’s volleyball works, and it’s been really fun.”

Creek began their season with a loss against Eaglecrest, and then an away win against Highlands Ranch, who they well outranked. But then, in their first home match of the season, Creek swept then-two seed Bear Creek.

“There was just a lot of adrenaline and…positive energy. Because we were excited that we could beat a team like that,” Quayle said. “Once you beat a team like that, that creates confidence. But there’s also a sense of wanting to recreate that. And so with the losses we’ve had, we’ve talked about wanting to learn from that…we did some good things, but we need to be able to recreate that, right?”

In the next ten games, Creek went 5-5.

“I think we just want to be in a better position,” Filene said on April 13. “Because if we made state right now we would be playing a top team. Right now we’re just looking forward to moving up in the rankings and trying to play a team more our skill level than playing the top five teams.”

Regardless of ranking, Quayle doesn’t want to count the team out. It may be a younger team this year, but anything can happen. “There can be a lot of upsets in volleyball. The lower-seeded team can beat the higher-seeded team any day,” she said. “They’re learning, they’re improving, and they’re learning how to work together as a team better each day. So if we keep doing that, we can do some good things.”

Reynolds said that he hopes that “our team fights for every game, set, and point,” adding that he believes they are capable of making state.

Since becoming a CHSAA-sanctioned sport in 2019, boys’ volleyball has grown exponentially. 2022 was the first year Quayle had to cut anyone after tryouts, and she says there’s a possibility Creek will have four teams next year.

But even though it’s growing and becoming more competitive, Filene values the community that volleyball has brought him and his teammates, this year and previously. And he believes that regardless of the outcome of this season, and regardless of what the team looks like next year, that community will continue to thrive. He says Creek volleyball “is one of the better places to be” at the school.

“I’d say for anyone who’s looking for…a positive sport, or looking to transition to a sport – I’d say volleyball is a really great sport to do that with,” he said. “I played [soccer] for a while and transitioning to volleyball was probably one of the better decisions I’ve made during high school.”