The old chicken/egg adage — you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job — is applicable for this year’s volleyball Warriors.
In 2012, the Warriors had to replace setter Nejc Zemljak and a dynamic duo of Jonas Umlauft, the nation’s best hitter, and Joshua Walker. Head coach Charlie Wade made the strategic decision to invest in newcomers — “young money,” he called it. That meant giving young players game experience and, in some cases, starting jobs. It also meant that for the Warriors to be good, they might have to be not-so-good for a while.
The tactic appears to have paid off this season. Brook Sedore, who averaged 0.42 kills per set and hit minus.013 as left-side hitter in 2012, is one of the league’s most productive opposites. In 2012, Taylor Averill, who had transferred from UC Irvine, finished the season as a sore-armed opposite. He underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum, reshaped his build, moved to middle, and now is the league’s most accurate hitter. Scott Hartley struggled to find time on the B side in practices. But he also reshaped his body under trainer Daniel Mar Chong (who also worked with Averill), was voted a co-captain in the fall despite being a reserve at the time, and has started the past four matches. Middle Davis Holt also worked into the lineup with improved read-blocking and a stronger right arm.
To be sure, there were risks. The Warriors did not qualify for the playoffs last season and Wade’s initial five-year contract expired the past May. But convinced that the program was trending in the right direction, the AD gave Wade a two-year extension. That security helped the Warriors sign three junior-national players the past fall.
Another adage: You reap what you sow.
The Warriors play Cal State Northridge at 5 p.m. today.
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Joey Iosefa’s performance at the NFL scouting combine showed one thing: He’s a fullback.
Iosefa never had breakaway speed. And even if he runs a sub-4.9 at pro day, he still would not fit the prototypical running back model.
Iosefa’s strength has always been his strength. He runs low, he’s tough to tackle. He can block. And he can catch (one drop in two years). Fullbacks block, get the ball in short-yardage situations, and roll to the flats as a receiver.
The odds are longer to making it as a fullback. An NFL team usually carries only one fullback. Sometimes, a tight end will align in the backfield as a fullback or H-back. Of the 25 top fullback prospects last year, only three were selected in the 2014 NFL draft — one in the sixth round, two in the seventh.
Iosefa has overcome a lot of obstacles. He conquered foot and ankle injuries. He became the first member of his family to earn a college degree. This is another test.
By the way, Chris Fuamatu-Ma‘afala was 5-11 and 252 when he was drafted. His fastest 40 was 4.85.