There have been a few bumps in the road, but Palm Beach Gardens will take an unblemished record into the final third of the boys volleyball season.
The Gators, who are scheduled to compete in this weekend’s Palm Beach Classic, built a 9-0 record to open the season, winning 27 of 33 sets along the way.
John I. Leonard and Suncoast came closest to handing Palm Beach Gardens its first loss — both took the Gators to five sets — while Jupiter and Dwyer each have taken a set.
The Warriors’ match came one day after Palm Beach Gardens outlasted John I. Leonard 25-14, 24-26, 25-23, 15-25, 15-8 in a five-set marathon, while the Gators also needed five sets to defeat the Chargers March 16 after going down 0-2 to start the match.
“They have a good determination,” said coach Cheryl Green, who has worked with the Gators’ boys and girls volleyball teams for more than two decades. “We work them hard.”
Green and assistants Theresa Palmer and Nicole Russell — who coached Palm Beach Gardens’ girls volleyball team to a regional quarterfinals berth last fall — have built the Gators into a state championship contender this season, one year after they finished 12-10 and failed to qualify for the state playoffs.
A tactical change early in the season helped spur Palm Beach Gardens’ dominant run.
Senior setters/middle hitters Tervinson Lubin and Henry Castellon, who set from the back, were moved to the middle when they rotate to the front row.
The change was made to give Palm Beach Gardens more punch inside, and it has proved effective.
Lubin leads the Gators in kills with 114, while Castellon has 66. Lubin also has a team-leading 39 blocks, while Castellon has a team-best 149 assists, 117 service points and 36 aces.
“It was really an adjustment, for everybody,” Green said of the rotation change. “But it’s made a huge difference. Doing a non-traditional rotation has really allowed us to utilize Henry and Tervinson. They’re my big hitters, and they’re also my best setters.”
Green has high hopes for the postseason, and hopes to utilize the final weeks of the regular season to prepare.
The talent-rich Palm Beach Classic will be held at Park Vista and Royal Palm Beach High Schools, and then Palm Beach Gardens will play five regular-season games before district tournament competition begins April 24.
“If we’re on, I think we’re going to be awfully hard to beat,” Green said.