Piedmont boys volleyball rebuilding on the fly

Shunji Higashi (9) celebrates with Wilson Wong (11) and John Champion (right) at an NCS playoff game versus Encinal on May 2, 2023.

Piedmont High School boys volleyball coach Mariah Cardenas is proud of last year’s senior class which led a resurgence in the sport. She’ll also miss all of them. Gone are Wilson Wong and Braden Day along with several others who formed the nucleus of the team.

“We’re going to really focus on having fun this year,” Cardenas said. “I think we are starting as if we have never had a program.”

Shunji Higashi and Jon Champion are the only two players back. Higashi is a senior setter, the only setter on the roster.

“He’s going to be the one to run the court pretty much the entire time,” Cardenas said.

John Champion is the other returning senior. He can play all over the court, according to Cardenas.

“He’s going to be the playmaker for the team,” she said. “We’re going to expect him to make as many points as possible.”

Cardenas said there aren’t enough bodies for a junior varsity team this year. Two freshman have come out including Lukas Kim, brother of Kalindi Kim from the girls program.

The length of the basketball season impacted the volleyball team in terms of time in the gym. But the Highlanders got out and won two of their first three matches. They opened on Feb. 27 with a 25-10, 25-15, 25-9 win at Mt. Eden.

The next night, Piedmont fell at St. Joseph-Notre Dame in four sets (scores unavailable). Then, on Feb. 29, the Highlanders defeated San Lorenzo at Binks Gymnasium, 25-16, 25-22, 25-18.

Asked for a season outlook, Cardenas said, “I would say God would be really blessing me if we made it to (the North Coast Section playoffs) again. I’m just hoping we can win a game.”

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