Weekly Feature



2017-11-29 / Sports

Boys volleyball team holds season awards banquet

Clarence’s boys volleyball squad officially put the finishing touches on its 2017 season Nov. 15 by holding this year’s team awards banquet.

The Red Devils, who were ranked ninth in the final Western New York Coaches Poll after finishing with a 14-8 record, handed out three major awards: the White Letter (MVP) Award; the Red Devil Player of the Year Award; and the Michael T. Schlabach Memorial Award. The team also recognized this year’s statistical leaders at the event.

Teddy Payne became just the second sophomore to receive the White Letter in program history, joining 1999 graduate — and current Iroquois boys varsity head coach — Mark Schlabach as the only other sophomore to achieve the honor. Payne’s older brother, Henry Payne, a freshman on Penn State University’s men’s team, won the White Letter Award the past two years.

Teddy Payne, who became the first eighth-grader to play varsity volleyball at Clarence, was a team captain this season and is already on the radar of multiple Division I college coaches. Teddy Payne, a repeat ECIC I First Team all-star whose 248 serving points were 10 short of a single-season record that has stood since 1999, also led the teams in points serving and assists. Teddy Payne is also a starting setter on one of the premier national competition teams for the Niagara Frontier Volleyball Club, and has attended multiple invitation-only, national-level USA Volleyball camps.

Senior Alex Maccallini, meanwhile, was dubbed this year’s Player of the Year, which goes to the player who best represents Clarence boys volleyball. Though Maccallini is not a starter, coach Kevin Starr said, “I could always depend on him to do the not-so-little things that some of the other boys tried to avoid, like setting up and taking down the net and making sure the equipment was where it needed to be.”

“Alex was absolutely a model of what we hope a Clarence athlete will be,” Starr said. “He was always enthusiastic when he was on the sidelines, and he made the most of his opportunities when he got the chance to play. His performance in practices as a second-team right-side hitter forced our starters to be at the top of their games during scrimmages. He made us a better team in ways that a stat sheet could never show.”

Senior co-captain Alex Croff, a middle hitter, who led the squad in hitting percentage this season, “was the heart and soul of our team,” Starr said, exhibiting the leadership, sportsmanship and dedication that Michael Schlabach — who died in 1994 following his battle with leukemia — displayed during his time with the program.

“Alex set an example every day of how hard work, dedication, and a team-first attitude can benefit a whole program,” Starr said. “He is going to be the kind of man that Mike would have been.”

Croff was named an ECIC I First Team all-star this year.

Other statistical leaders this season included junior Jackson Wurtz (ECIC I Second Team all-star; save percentage and digs), senior Devin Dzierba (spike attempts and kills), and senior Shawn Trznadel (blocks), an All-WNY Second Team all-star who will be continuing his volleyball career at the Division I level next year at Indiana University– Purdue University Fort Wayne.

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