Tyler Anderson is ready for one final chance.
After falling in the fifth set of last season’s state Division II boys volleyball final, the Bellmore JFK senior outside hitter and his teammates are ramped up entering the 2018 season opener at Great Neck North on Thursday.
“I think about that last match a lot,” Anderson said of Bellmore JFK’s 2017 loss to Eden in five games, 25-20, 19-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-8. “I feel like we left that last season unfinished. It has definitely motivated me and my team and our desire to win is stronger because of it.”
The Cougars enjoyed an outstanding ride last season, finishing 18-4 overall, including 14-3 in Nassau B-I. They defeated Bethpage in the county final, 25-12, 25-16, 25-19, to earn their eighth county title in 10 years. Anderson and company then defeated Hauppauge in a thriller, 25-22, 17-25, 25-20, 25-21, to win the program’s third Long Island Class B crown.
Anderson, who compiled 254 kills, 48 blocks and 29 aces last season, touched on what it would mean to lead his team back to the state final ultimately win it all to conclude his final year in a Bellmore JFK uniform.
“It would mean the world to me,” said Anderson, a 2017 Newsday All-Long Island first team honoree. “It has always been my goal ever since I watched my brother [Gary Anderson] and his team win states in 2012.”
The Cougars have high hopes of securing the second state Division II title in program history with Anderson leading the way. Coach Dennis Ringel detailed how Anderson, who began playing competitive volleyball at 13 after picking it up three years earlier at camp, possesses an innate playmaking ability.
“He’s been playing for a long time; he comes from a volleyball family,” Ringel said. “He’s got this ability to be able to take an OK set and turn it into a great hit, and a great set and just demolish it. He’s someone that makes the play better. He can also hit very well from all places around the net.”
“I play volleyball year-round to constantly improve my game,” Anderson said. “Besides playing for Kennedy, I play club and attend camps. To become mentally prepared before a game, I run through different scenarios that might occur and how I would react to them. This helps me take my game to the next level where I can focus on each point as it occurs. I try to visualize where I’m going to place the ball on the court.”
While Anderson features the caliber of talent that can almost single-handedly will his team to victory on a given night, Ringel knows the impact of key returnees such as setter Cooper Moran and middle blocker Tyler Jarzabeck will also be crucial in order to make another state final run.
“Our focus early on in the year is that we don’t want to be a team that sets him 80 percent of the balls,” Ringel said. “Even though I think we might do well that way. But we want to be a well-balanced team. But Tyler is certainly the biggest cog in what we’ve got going this year.”
And he’s ready for one final chance.