Early this season, following the second or third day of practice, Massapequa coach Steve Mariano had a message for senior middle hitter Chris Husmann.
"I don't think you know how good you can be," Mariano told him.
In Husmann, Mariano saw a 6-4 kid with supreme leaping ability and room to improve.
Never mind that Husmann was a reigning All-Long Island selection and one of the county's top returnees; Mariano saw a special player ready to break out.
And after a season in which he led the Chiefs to a Long Island title and a state championship appearance, Husmann is Newsday's Player of the Year.
He had a school-record 331 kills and earned NYSPHSAA All-State honors.
"He has come the furthest because mentally, he developed so much as a player," Mariano said. "I don't think he knew how good he was or how good he could be. He just has incredible jumping ability.
"But he learned how to hit hard and smart."
With Husmann's improved all-around game, the Chiefs won their third consecutive Nassau Class A title and first Long Island championship. They were 20-0 and won 60 of 62 games in best-of-five matches before losing to McQuaid Jesuit in the state Division I championship game.
"The first day of tryouts, we all knew it would be something special," Husmann said.
At the state tournament, Massapequa went 4-2 to advance out of pool play. They were the only team to take a game from Jesuit in the opening round, as Husmann had a kill with his team trailing 25-24 to save game point.
But when asked to recall his favorite memory of the season, Husmann did not point to a kill or the clinching point of a championship match.
"Outside of matches, when we all hung out as a team, we had a great time," Husmann said.