The boys volleyball team at Villa Angela-St. Joseph is filled with underclassmen and several players on the roster are just becoming familiar with the sport.
However, that has not dimmed the enthusiasm first year coach Rytas Petraitis has for the season or for the future of the Vikings.
Petraitis, a 2010 VASJ grad and an assistant to Mark Royer on the girls volleyball team in the fall, has no doubt the sport will catch on around the state of Ohio and the program at E. 185th an Lakeshore will flourish as well.
"I guarantee with momentum and exposure and once kids come out and see the speed of the game and the power of the attack, this sport is going to catch on big time," Petraitis said.
"This year is a rebuilding year for us in the sense that we have just one senior and we have a lot of guys who haven't played organized volleyball before. But, we have athletes and we want to use that athleticism as we learn the game."
Petraitis played volleyball at VASJ before going on to D'Youville in New York and then returning to school at Cleveland State.
Both coaching and Viking Village are in Petraitis' blood as his brother, K.C., and father are coaches for the varsity soccer team.
As for his opportunity at a young age to take over the boys volleyball program from Royer, Petraitis is not afraid to admit it is a daunting task.
"It's pressure," Petraitis said. "You don't just replace a man like Coach Royer. Look at what he has done for the girls volleyball team at this school. There is a lot to live up to following him."
This year's roster features a trio of standouts led by sohpomore outside hitter Danny McGarry – who also plays football and basketball. Denard Zamora is the team's lone senior and Xavier Brown is a promising sophomore.
VASJ opens play on April 14 at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
"When you think of the girls game, you think of the incredible skill they have and that is what we need to try to translate to the boys," Petraitis said. "We have the speed and athleticism, they just need to learn the game and develop volleyball skills. But, I am very excited for the future of this program."