Despite the obstacles that the men’s volleyball team faced early in the season, their perseverance led to winning their eighth state title.
The Brahmas finished the season with an overall record of 14-6. While in conference, they finished undefeated, going 6-0 and securing a spot in the playoffs.
Team captain Bernardo Roese led in assists this season with 10.23 assists per set and teammate Cole Chea led in kills with a total of 23.
Roese was awarded Most Valuable Player in conference, while Chea was named MVP for the state tournament which took place at Fullerton College.
“It was a tough start. We had 100 percent effort no matter what. There were times we didn’t have our setter so other people had to give double the effort. I’m proud of the team and against the odds we actually won it,” Chea said.
Chea mentioned that before the LBCC game, Walker spoke with him and said they were going to beat the Vikings.
“I remember before the game coach pulled me aside and said Cole we are going to win this game. It is going to happen. That faith pushed me harder and got rid of my nerves,” Chea said.
The Brahmas managed to bring home another state title, even though their biggest challenge early in the season was limited players, due to players not being cleared to play.
Head Coach Lance Walker said they lost about a third of their season due to players who weren’t cleared and that affected them. Once everyone was cleared, everyone saw the changes in their record.
“We had a fantastic team,” Walker said. “Once everyone was cleared we went undefeated.”
Walker said they all knew they weren’t at their best, but they didn’t give up because they believed they could improve throughout the season.
According to Walker the Brahmas’ starting record of 4-6 was not good, but the guys trusted the process and he’s grateful that they trusted him to help them improve as well.
Roese said a lot of hard work was put into making the team because six players were showing for practice while others were dealing with injuries and getting cleared.
Roese said the bond they had not only as teammates, but also as friends helped them stay strong throughout the season.
The turning point for them though was the second game they played against Long Beach City College and lost, where Roese and the whole team showed great frustration.
“After we lost the second game it was a really rough night. We went to the locker room together and literally cried together. I think that really changed our mindset,” Roese said.
Roese said the team bond that exists is the best strategy the team could have. Without that relationship, they wouldn’t have gotten through the season and won the championship.
“We deserved to be there. We earned it to be there. We worked harder than any other team,” Roese said. “We went to the court to battle. We are true friends outside of the court, so I think that really helped us become a better team this year.”
Walker said he doesn’t take sole responsibility for the Brahmas’ success. Assistant coach Teddy Niemira was committed to having a successful year at Pierce, which is why Walker nominated him as Coach of the Year. Niemira later received his award.
“I had to give credit to Teddy and his diligence to the process,” Walker said.
Walker said the best reward from it all was the title, but also beating the undefeated Long Beach in the semifinals because as a former volleyball player, he worked hard to flip the switch and become the coach he is today.
“It’s personally special because I won them as a player. I learned to be a coach and beat Long Beach,” Walker said. “I was a great player, but I had to learn to be a coach.”
The guys trusted him and knew he was capable of leading them to state and he did. His consistent words of advice are that they’re all capable of being successful inside and out of the court.
“They’re champions in life if they put a banner on the wall or not,” Walker said.