Welcome to the Block Party


Johna Roche, Assistant Editor in Chief

It’s match point. The pressure is on. The nerves kick in. Each player dreams of this moment. Playing your high school’s biggest rival turns into a backyard brawl. Your coach is counting on those on the court to put up a big block. However, on the other side of the net is Alex Ryan with a look of determination in his eyes.

Greater Latrobe senior, Alex Ryan is an outside hitter for the varsity boys volleyball team. He has been playing since eighth grade and is eager to be on the court for his last year as a Wildcat.

“The rest of my team motivates me, I don’t want to let them down. I think we all feel the same way about that,” Ryan said. He has put in a lot of hard work, in season or during the off season. For example, he has even showed up more than an hour before practice begins just to work on  and critique his jump serve. Ryan is extremely dedicated to the sport and wants to show that to his team.

“When I’m in a slump or get down on myself, I get mad and I shake it off. I use that anger to come back and get the next point,” Ryan said. There are no excuses in Ryan’s book, but there are solutions. When a mistake is made, he will always figure out what was wrong and go to work on making it better.

Ryan’s love for volleyball is endless, but his academics come first.

“I’m going to Penn State (University Park) and I might play club, but not on the varsity team,” he said.

The Greater Latrobe team itself is very close and loves to joke around. Most of the seniors, such as Joey Costello, Myles Douglas, Nick Jaworske, and Matt Klasnic are very comfortable and carefree with the teammates that surround them. Practices are filled with laughter and good spirits. The boys lift each other up and give good constructive criticism.

“There’s so many good memories, but the State College trips every season, that’s probably the best time of the year with the guys,” Ryan said. Every year, the team takes vans up to State College for a weekend tournament. It usually consists of a lot of team bonding, late nights, and of course, volleyball. The short trip creates so many memories that the team will keep with them for a long time ahead. The boys will be going up at the end of April this year, wanting to take down any competition they may face.

Ryan has a special connection with senior Tommy Labick who just so happens to be his setter. Typically the setter’s go to person on the court is their outside hitter. The two have a spark on the court that no other pair can match. They pump up the whole team, making the game much more enjoyable not just to watch, but to play as well.

“[The connection with Tommy] is great, because we know we’re always there for each other, we’d do anything for each other on or off the court,” Ryan said. “I think that really helps. It’s made us closer as friends and as teammates,”

Ryan is a very selfless player. His focus is bigger than himself. “I want to put the team first. As a team, we want to win the section and place top four in the WPIAL,” he said.

The Wildcats made the postseason last year, falling short to Seneca Valley, but are ready to put the ball on the opponent’s floor this season.

The boys are more than excited to step into the 2019 season. They want all of their blood, sweat, and tears to pay off.

“Norwin at home is going to have to be the game I’m most excited for this year. I want to beat them as well as the rest of our team. We want to beat them more than anyone else in the WPIAL,” Ryan said.

Alex Ryan is willing and able to help bring his team to victory whenever or wherever. He won’t give up, because he has come so far. He won’t stop until he hears the crowd cheer, because that’s when you can finally stand up.