Bishop’s boys volleyball: Creating a culture
by ED PIPER
Published - 03/27/19 - 08:05 AM | 2467 views | 0 0 comments | 63 63 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bishop's boys volleyball: from left, assistant coach Chloe Mathis, senior middle-blockers Nathan Wu and Connor Greisen, and interim head coach Kevin Pratt. / Photo by Ed Piper
Bishop's boys volleyball: from left, assistant coach Chloe Mathis, senior middle-blockers Nathan Wu and Connor Greisen, and interim head coach Kevin Pratt. / Photo by Ed Piper
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Bishop’s middle blocker Nathan Wu has crawled the Cu Chi tunnels dug by the Viet Cong under Saigon during the Vietnam War. He also walked the path of the Bataan Death March, which his mother’s father was subjected to in World War II.

The 5’11” hitter, who also started in goal for Doug Peabody’s top water polo team, took two Bishop’s classmates on a medical mission to Guatemala with him and his father during this year’s winter break.

Wu’s present mission: Bringing some of the winning culture that he has been steeped in in Knights’ water polo to the volleyball program, in which interim coach Kevin Pratt is filling in for Jackie Gomez, out on family leave this season.

“Unfortunately, the men’s volleyball program gets overlooked here at Bishop’s, surrounded by so many good teams,” says the earnest Wu, who willingly admits he doesn’t have “the volleyball I.Q. some of my teammates have,” like fellow middle blocker Connor Greisen, the Knights’ 6’8” power hitter. He sees his role more as mentoring the younger players and filling in where needed.

Greisen, who has honed his skills in club play with elite teammates like Nathaniel Gates of La Jolla High and Donovan Todorov of University City High, agrees the Knights are younger. “We have some new freshmen and sophomores. We get goofy sometimes,” he chuckles.

But on court, Greisen goes serious, as he did when the boys from Bishop’s swept Gates and the Vikings 3-0 recently. Noah Lin, the team’s setter, is a 5’4” pepperpot who stirs things up. “He talks a lot. He’s super loud,” says Connor. Casey Holden, a 6’1” outside hitter, “almost never talks,” smiles Greisen. “He’s a good passer. He’s a super good hitter. He jumps super high.”

Connor says one of his offensive weapons is the fact he launches many of his spikes back from the net, which makes them harder to block. Also, “Very few people can reach the point where I release my hit--only Nathaniel and Donovan.”

While the 6’8” middle continues to try to bulk up his 185 pounds on his father Dana’s steak preparations--”I ate steak three times yesterday,” he reveals. “I put it in a quesadilla”--the sterner Wu contemplates history and its lessons. Having started the history club on campus four years ago, Nathan asserts, “Everyone should know about things like the Holocaust. We can learn patterns and understand cultures through food, art, how war affects a people.”

“My mom (who is Filipina) came to the U.S. as a political refugee,” says Wu. “My dad’s dad fled the Communists in China, emigrating from Shanghai.”

“Everyone is holding everyone else accountable on the team,” he says. “Being on time, where we put our toes on the line, buying into team goals. Coach Pratt has given us (team leaders) a lot of autonomy to run our own drills.”

Says three-year assistant coach Chloe Mathis, “We have great leaders, great offensive players. When the whistle blows, everyone is dialed in.”
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