ROTTERDAM: Mohon matures into contender

The Mohonasen boys volleyball team is no longer a Suburban Council pushover. In fact, the Mighty Warriors are a serious contender for the league title.

Mohonasen maintained its unbeaten record with Monday's 3-0 victory over Niskayuna. Only defending champion Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake can match the Mighty Warriors' 7-0 mark.

If there was a year where we had a shot at (the league title), this would be it, said Mohonasen coach Josh Hughes.

Fueling the Mighty Warriors' start is a group of seniors that have been playing for Hughes since they were in eighth grade. The group includes Cameron Couball and C.J. Fonda, who are among the league leaders in kills and assists, respectively.

"The program has been growing and growing," said Hughes. "The first five or six seasons I was at Mohonasen, we accumulated maybe that many wins " five or six total."

Hughes been at the center of Mohonasen's volleyball renaissance. After becoming the varsity coach in 1999, Hughes has steadily built interest in the sport at a school that had trouble getting boys to play volleyball.

"I had to initially show them the power aspect (of volleyball) to show them it was a man's game," said Hughes. "I had them line up on the other side of the net, and I spiked the ball at them to show how much power was involved. After that, I had to show them the finesse aspect of it."

Above all, Hughes stresses to his players that volleyball is a fun sport.

"One of my goals is to get these kids to play for life," said Hughes, who plays for a local club team when he's not coaching or teaching at Mohonasen. "I just played (volleyball) at the Empire State Games in the 35-year-old division, and I'm 37 years old. I still love to play."

The fun will turn serious later this week when Mohonasen and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake meet Friday for the first of two Suburban Council matches. Though the Spartans have a winning reputation built upon last year's perfect run through the league, Hughes believes his Mighty Warriors can beat them.

"We'd have to play perfectly to beat them, but this is one of those sports where if you go in and play your best, you can win," he said.

If they don't win Friday, the Mighty Warriors might get another shot at BH-BL at Saturday's league tournament.""

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