There was a group of new kids on the block in the gold bracket at the Richmond Volleyball Club showcase this weekend: the Monacan Chiefs.
The Richmond Volleyball Club’s showcase tournament is the biggest volleyball event in the area with 18 boys teams that came to play for two days.
Monacan burst onto the scene with a strong showing, upsetting Atlee to place fifth overall. The gold bracket included volleyball powers such as Princess Anne, Mills Godwin, Maury and Deep Run.
“We’re going to keep working hard in practice,” said senior Garrett Carson. “I think these guys like winning so they’re going to keep working hard.”
The Chiefs defeated Conference 20 foe Hanover 2-1 and 6A State Tournament participant Ocean Lakes to win their pool on Friday. Hanover fell in the state championship game last year to Midlothian and lost a few players, but is expected to challenge the Chiefs for the conference title.
Mason Rawls, Lance Johnson and Carson led the way on the court. Rawls is a powerful middle who was the only junior to make the Conference 20 first team last year and also earned 4A South All-Region honors. Johnson is one of the better all-around players in the area.
“[Rawls] is a dominant blocker who can pass and serve,” Shrader said. “We haven’t met an opponent yet that has really had an answer for him.”
Out of the other two seniors returning this year, Carson has moved to outside hitter and Drew Buckley has replaced him at setter.
While Monacan isn’t thought of as a volleyball school and their presence in the gold bracket was a surprise to other teams, history shows that the Chiefs have excelled, but it has been a while.
“Student population back when I was at Monacan was between 1700 and 2000, now it’s dropped all the way down to 1300,” Shrader said. “A lot of our parents still live in those neighborhoods, so not many new kids have moved in.”
In 1997, Monacan was the state runner-up in the first ever VHSL volleyball state tournament. In 1998, the Chiefs won a state championship. Shrader was a part of those teams. His assistant, Jared Calfee played on Monacan’s 2006 team that advanced to the region tournament.
Shrader said that his team quietly wanted to go about their business, and he had hoped to surprise some people with Monacan’s results this season, but the proverbial cat has been let out of the bag.