GNB Voc-Tech junior relishing new role on boys volleyball team

NEW BEDFORD — It was anybody’s match when GNB Voc-Tech’s Colin Stuessi stepped up to the service line in game four of the Bears’ volleyball match at New Bedford on Saturday.

The Bears were up 2-1 and the score was tied at 17-17 when Stuessi helped turn the tide in Voc-Tech’s favor down the stretch with five straight service points that included three back-breaking aces.

“I’ve been working on my serving the last three years,” said Stuessi, a junior outside hitter who finished with 10 kills and 10 digs in the Bears’ 22-25, 25-12, 25-22, 25-21 win over the Whalers. “It was the perfect time for someone to step up and I was happy to be able to help my team in a tough match against a good team.”

GNB Voc-Tech's Colin Stuessi focuses on the ball earlier this season. On Saturday, he had 10 kills and 10 digs in a win over New Bedford.

GNB Voc-Tech’s Colin Stuessi focuses on the ball earlier this season. On Saturday, he had 10 kills and 10 digs in a win over New Bedford.

Stuessi has blossomed in his first season as a hitter after starting the last two years at libero, where he earned Standard-Times Super Team honors a year ago as a sophomore.

“It was a smooth transition and it’s been a lot of fun. I love being a big part of our offense,” said Stuessi, one of the most versatile players in the area when you factor in his back-row skills and his ability to pound or float a tough jump serve depending on the situation. “We have a really good team with kids who can play all over the court. We take pride in our defense and we like to put pressure on our opponents with our serving.”

Voc-Tech coach Richie Gomes said the 6-foot Stuessi, who benefited from a five-inch growth spurt after his sophomore season, has come a long way in a short time for the Bears.

“He’s been in our lineup since he was a freshman and he’s worked hard to make himself a better player,” Gomes said. “He plays year round and he’s improved in all areas of the game.”

Gomes added that the Bears changed up their offense heading into this season to take advantage of Stuessi’s strengths.

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“We adjusted our sets for him and he’s been very consistent at the net,” Gomes said. “He jumps well, he hits the ball hard, and he has a good feel for the game. He’s also a great team player who goes all out in the back row and helps us with his serving.”

When he’s not playing beach volleyball in the summer, Stuessi stays sharp playing for the Bears and a pair of travel teams — South County in Rhode Island and Supreme New Bedford, which Gomes coaches.

“Volleyball is the only sport I play,” said Stuessi, who lives in Fairhaven. “It takes a lot of energy and skill to be a good player. You have to want it and you have to be willing to leave everything on the court.”

WHAT IT MEANS: The Bears, who snapped a two-match losing streak, improved to 5-2. They are 2-1 in the South Alliance Conference. … The Whalers, who had won five of their last six matches, dropped to 6-4. They are 1-1 in the Southeast Conference. … Both teams return to action for 5 p.m. matches at home on Monday. The Bears host league-rival Quincy, while the Whalers play host to North Quincy for a non-conference matchup. … The Bears took home the City Rivalry Cup with the win. The Whalers will get a chance for some trophy redemption when the teams meet for a rematch at Voc-Tech on Friday.

NEW BEDFORD COACH BEN KAETERLE: “We didn’t play our best, but we had our moments. We came out firing, but we couldn’t keep it going. We have a mix of young guys who are still trying to find their way together. We have some guys who can put the ball down at the net, but our passing was a little shaky.”

STATS: Curran Farnworth finished with 15 kills and eight digs for the Bears. … Camden Morin added five kills. … Sophomore setter Jack Gwozdz fueled the Bears’ offense with 17 assists and senior libero Tayshaun Andrade played a strong match in the back row with 10 digs. … Senior setter Evan Fagundes notched 12 assists and seven digs. … Sophomore outside hitter Nick Rosa finished with a team-high eight kills for the Whalers, who also got 23 assists from junior setter Carter Barbosa and 14 digs from senior defensive specialist Connor Silva. … Junior outside hitter Jensen Farnworth and senior middle blocker Dilson DaCosta Teixeira both had five kills. … Sophomore outside hitter Amir Salih Tavares chipped in with four kills.

NOTES: A Standard-Times Super Team pick last season, Barbosa is the only returning starter for the Whalers, who had to replace 2022 Standard-Times Player of the Year Kishan Patel and versatile Super Team middle hitter/outside hitter Ryan Dosenberg. Patel is a freshman at the University of Rhode Island, where he’s majoring in computer science and playing on the Rams’ club team, which competes in the New England Collegiate Volleyball League and is coached by former GNB Voc-Tech mentor Mike Holden. … This is the biggest team Gomes has had in his 13-year tenure with the Bears. The team’s roster includes the 6-5 Morin, 6-4 senior middle hitter Serrone Ramos, 6-4 junior right side/middle hitter Carlos Anaya, and 6-3 senior middle hitter Jake Belli. The Bears also have 6-9 freshman Avery Lopes in the pipeline on their jayvee team.

This article originally appeared on Standard-Times: Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech beats New Bedford in boys volleyball

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