Sharks boys volleyball tastes success three years in


From growing pains to success, that has been the story for the Ponte Vedra boys volleyball program since it was first started three years ago.

“In year one, our team was majority seniors except for me as a sophomore, and there were very few volleyball players on the team, it was more just athletes from other sports,” said senior captain Merritt Crowe. “There was a lot of learning and learning through failure basically.”

According to Crowe, having gone through the adversity makes getting to the point where the team is at now, with a record of 9-2, even sweeter.

“After this, I have no problem leaving on a good note and knowing that we’ve developed a good reputation not on at the school but within the county,” Crowe said.

One of those leaders on the team that will take over an increased leadership role next year is junior Logan Johnson who has been playing competitive volleyball since he was 12 years old.

“It’s been pretty cool to watch us just grow as a team over the years,” Johnson said. “I’m ready for my role next year as a senior.”

Since Ponte Vedra’s program got underway many more schools in St. Johns County have been quick to follow suite and begin their own teams during the last couple of years.

Having teams nearby makes it huge difference not just because it demonstrates the continued growth of the game, but also simply in terms of less travel time required.

The first year of the program, Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine High were the only schools in the county with boys volleyball teams, which meant the Sharks had to travel to Orlando just to find someone to play the majority of the time.

“It was definitely tough, because we were traveling to Orlando like twice a week,” Kinsey said. “It got pretty old.”

Kinsey is co-captain on the team and first joined as a freshman three years ago. He has seen the development not only of the team as a whole but also of himself as a player during that time, as he had played volleyball for fun over the years but is now part of a high-level club volleyball team to help refine his game as a libero.

“I decided to really take it seriously, and it has paid off,” Kinsey said. “It’s a lot different playing competitively compared to playing for fun. It’s all about knowing where everyone is supposed to be and not just your position, because volleyball is a very team sport. You have to have a super strong connection with everyone on the court at the same time or just doesn’t work.”

Part of the program’s development has included increased numbers of players trying out for the team each year, which Crowe believes is a sign that boys volleyball continues to be of growing interest to the rest of the student body.

“A big part of my responsibility has been helping spread the word about boys volleyball,” Crowe said. “Our first year we had about 14 or 15 guys try out and this year we had more than 20 and next year we’re expecting more than 30 to 40. We’re making a mark and people are realizing this is a legit sports program.”

Of course, he also realizes that the winning definitely helps gravitate new players and fans to the game, as the Sharks have only lost twice all season and have won all nine of their games in straight sets.

“The program’s in good hands going into the future,” Crowe said.

Ponte Vedra Sharks, boys volleyball