Adam Burk has a knack for producing timely points.
Moments into the Eastport-South Manor boys volleyball team's meeting against Bay Shore on Sept. 24, the senior outside hitter realized it was time to raise his game to another level.
"We came out a little sloppy and started realizing we had to pick it up and be the team we had to be," said Burk, who racked up a season-high 26 kills in a frenetic 28-26, 22-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-9 win over the Marauders. "I put it in my head that I had to be the best that I could be so that we could get the win."
Burk recorded five kills for the Sharks in their first eight points of the deciding set, and also came through with 13 kills two days later in a 3-1 triumph over Smithtown West, earning him Newsday’s Athlete of the Week honors.
Eastport-South Manor coach Bill Kropp said the Sharks were in need of a performance like Burk’s in order to capture the hard-fought win against Bay Shore.
"He really got hot at the right time,” Kropp said. “With that match going five sets, we were in trouble and we needed someone to take over and offensively he did the trick."
Burk acknowledged that finding that sort of rhythm can induce a sense of pressure, but it’s also the type of atmosphere he relishes.
"It’s amazing," Burk said. "Just being on the court and when you get that kill and you have those 20 seconds to celebrate with your team and the crowd. There’s a lot of pressure, but in that moment it’s great."
"With great power comes great responsibility," Kropp said. "And he understands his role of where he has to be at the end of a match."
Kropp said that despite his hitting prowess, Burk’s greatest strides this season have come in his abilities to pass and receive serves. Burk’s athleticism is immediately evident with his strength and leaping ability while standing 6-4. Now, however, he is demonstrating his all-around talent and has improved his leadership qualities.
"His work ethic and intelligence stand out," Kropp said. "He has all the tools. He wants to be a leader and to take this team on his back and where we can achieve."
After the Sharks fell to Bellmore JFK in the Long Island Division II championship last season, Burk is confident that his team can push even further and earn a trip to the state tournament this season.
"I love our chances," Burk said. "I love being the underdog that people push aside. People talk about Sachem, Lindenhurst , Northport, Smithtown West. No one thinks we’re competent enough. I love that motivation."