GLENDALE — Most times when Ryan Kovarik found himself in front of the net, the Glendale High boys’ volleyball team got a favorable result.
The junior middle blocker found himself right in the middle of things for Glendale, providing quality defense and some timely kills Thursday against crosstown rival Hoover in a Pacific League-opening match for both teams.
“Blocks just seem to come natural for me and you try to find the open spots to get kills,” said Kovarik, who finished with 11 kills and 10 blocks to lead host Glendale to a 22-11, 22-25, 25-18, 25-15 win. “You try to stay confident and not get frustrated. It’s big to start league with a win because its gives you a very big confidence boost.”
Glendale improved to 1-1 and Hoover fell to 0-1. The teams will meet again May 1 at Hoover.
Kovarik, who received some playing time last season, proved to be at his best in the latter stages of the third and fourth games. In the third game, Kovarik had two kills. He then finished with three kills and a block to seal the fourth game. Kovarik recorded a kill to conclude the match.
Glendale Coach Ta’ase Mose said Kovarik made quite an impression for the Nitros, who finished sixth in league last season.
“He’ll be able to provide us some leadership,” said Mose, who got nine kills from Hence King. “When he’s fired up, he’s ready to play.
“He had some real big blocks and kills to get us going. He especially had some solid blocks and I was impressed.”
King, an outside hitter, also helped keep the Tornadoes at bay. He had two kills and two aces in the pivotal third game to help snuff out Hoover’s momentum after it rallied from a 21-18 deficit in the second game to even the match at one game apiece.
Under first-year coach Gabby Gallardo, the Tornadoes are looking to climb in league after finishing in last place last season.
“There’s been a massive improvement throughout the team since our first practice,” said Gallardo, who got seven kills from outside hitter Brandon Estrada.