Dolan, Lewis strong in the middle

Mustangs middle Trevor Lewis has been key for Gilroy's attack and block. Photo by Robert Eliason.

The Gilroy High boys volleyball team is still trying to find its identity and cohesiveness on the court. Fortunately for the Mustangs, the players—including senior middle blockers Trevor Lewis and Jacob Dolan—believe a turnaround is imminent.

“I feel our team can definitely clean up our play (in terms of passing and serve-receive),” Lewis said. “These are things we can work on, and I definitely see us doing very well this season.”

The Mustangs entered the week at 2-3 in the Monterey Bay League’s Pacific Division, but coach Paolo Palao expressed optimism that the squad has yet to play its best volleyball.

“We’re still trying to find our identity,” Palao said. “Once we get there, we’ll start getting better results.”

Whereas Gilroy leaned heavily on the outside for its attacks the last couple of years, this season it has gone early and often to the middle on offense.

“Trevor is one of the bigger and more physical middles in the league,” Palao said. “We’ve run our quick attack pretty well through him, and we’re getting a lot of kills and blocks from our middles this season. Jacob has brought us so much good energy on the floor and keeps a positive attitude. He’s only getting better.”

Other top standout players include junior setter Niklas Marquez, senior right side Jesus Martinez, sophomore middle blocker Bryce Bayuga, junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Vincent Thai, sophomore Josiah Lopez and libero Krystian Deveza. The 5-foot-11 Dolan is in his first and only season of playing volleyball at Gilroy. Dolan’s main sport is soccer, and that was his focus for the majority of his high school career. However, Dolan did play volleyball in middle school, so he had at least some experience coming into this season.

Lewis’ game has made dramatic improvement in the last couple of years, a byproduct of playing for a club team and doing some camps outside of the high school season. Lewis said playing volleyball has brought him extra fulfillment.

“The best highlight is seeing the progress I’ve made and all of my teammates have made,” he said. “I’ve known them for four years, and it’s cool to see how we’ve all grown together as players and people. It’s great to see what playing sports can do.”

Dolan and Lewis are good friends, and their relationship only grew stronger when Dolan was diagnosed with testicular cancer last August. Dolan underwent successful surgery that same month and now has monthly check-ups to make sure the cancer is not spreading. So far, so good for Dolan, who credited his family and friends for providing support throughout this emotional process.

“Friends like Trevor were really comforting,” Dolan said. “He’s a real fun guy to hang out with, and he knows how to make me laugh.”

Lewis was impressed with Dolan’s character throughout his friend’s ordeal.

“When he was talking to me about the cancer, it was a pretty scary time,” Lewis said. “I was feeling pretty down and sad since I’ve known him all my life. To know he could’ve possibly been taken away, it was very emotional. But he had a good attitude about it, and he didn’t use it as a pity card. Everyone noticed that about his character. I thank him almost everyday for coming out and helping this team.”

Dolan opted to play this year after friends convinced him to come out for the team, and he’s overjoyed he made the decision. Dolan decided to play for the love of the sport and to motivate others and himself to overcome adversity.

“I wanted to prove people wrong that you can come back from something like this and have good seasons in two different sports,” he said.