Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

McSweeney’s a Smash Hit on the Volleyball Court


Senior captain middle hitter Matt McSweeney made the All-SCC First Team while helping the Hand boys’ basketball squad get back to the conference final this spring.

Photo courtesy of Matt McSweeney

Senior captain middle hitter Matt McSweeney made the All-SCC First Team while helping the Hand boys’ basketball squad get back to the conference final this spring. (Photo courtesy of Matt McSweeney )

Matt McSweeney relishes the frenetic nature of a volleyball match. As a member of the Hand boys’ volleyball team, Matt is always ready to respond to anything that comes his way and then hammer it home for the kill.

Matt is a senior captain who plays middle hitter for the Tigers. Matt signed up for volleyball as a junior because some of his friends played for the squad, and it turned out to be a great decision. After helping Hand claim its first SCC title last spring, Matt is enjoying a big senior season that’s seen him garner All-Conference First Team honors. Matt has 238 kills, 51 blocks, and 58 aces for the Tigers, who advanced to the SCC final for the second-straight campaign.

“I love the team camaraderie, and I knew it was something I wanted to be part of when I first saw the sport,” says Matt. “I love the fast pace of the sport. There is so much going on with setting, serving, and hitting. My success comes 100 percent from the players around me. My job as hitter is to spike and hit the ball, but I can’t do that without the guys in the back row.”

With so much happening on every point, it’s imperative for Matt to pay attention to all the moving parts. Matt says that he’s improved immensely with his focus throughout his time with the Tigers.

“Volleyball is such a game of focus. A lot of it is so technical, because you have to be in the right spot at the right time to get the angle on a shot,” Matt says. “Even with the fans cheering in the stands, you have to stay within yourself and the team, and I think I’ve grown there.”

Matt likes to get the crowd amped up and, as a captain, he embraces the responsibility of ensuring that Hand always takes the court with a unified mindset.

“I love getting up in the air and getting a good hit and then seeing the roar of the team and the fans,” says Matt. “Communication with the team can be tough. I’m more of a lead-by-example guy, but I try and make sure everyone is on the same page. I was just so happy to earn this leadership position this season.”

Head Coach Marc Figlar praises Matt for the relentless effort that he gives the Tigers. Figlar adds that his captain is always looking to better both himself and his club.

“Matt is a tireless worker and sets a great example for others,” Figlar says. “He never complains and always works hard. Matt is also always asking questions on what more he can do.”

It took some time for the Hand to find its consistency on the floor this season. However, the Tigers rounded into form as the campaign unfolded on their way to securing a spot in the playoffs.

“We were a little shaky in the regular season. Our lineups were changing constantly with people being out, and we had a lack of a regular lineup,” Matt says. “In the last week of the regular season, we started to get some guys back, and we will be ready for whoever we play in the postseason.”

John Lecardo covers sports for Guilford, Madison, and Haddam-Killingworth for Zip06. Email John at j.lecardo@shorepublishing.com.

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