Agua Fria volleyball

Agua Fria volleyball coach Ken Fox, right, speaks to Manny Muse, left, and Jakub Mularski, middle, at practice. (Photo by Eric Newman)

The Agua Fria boys’ volleyball team appears to be reaping the benefits of years of work.

The Owls served a 10-2 start in their first 12 games, the team’s best start. Coach Ken Fox, who has helmed the team for all of its three years, credits his seniors.

“They’ve been here through everything. When we had our first varsity year, we went 4-13. Even when we lost like eight games in a row, they still came in every day with the same great attitude,” Fox said.

Owls senior captain Manny Muse has played on the team’s highest level each of his four years – one season on JV and three on varsity – and has been pleased with the program’s growth. Muse didn’t touch a volleyball before high school and is now the Owls’ all-time kills leader.

“We know we’re still a new team,” Muse said. “There wasn’t boys’ volleyball here in Agua Fria before us, so it’s been really cool to start the way we have this year. We take a lot of pride in building the team.”

Senior Jakub Mularski agreed. He and the older players play volleyball in the offseason to hone their skills, and actively recruit athletic classmates for tryouts and open gyms.

Mularski hopes the team can reach the playoffs to increase interest in the program.

“I think if we have that success, then people are going to look over and say, ‘Hey, these guys are doing something cool over there,’ and it would be cool for us seniors to go out with a bang together,” Mularski said.

The Owls reached the 5A play-in round last season after five consecutive wins to boost a 13-8 record. With another year of development, and even better team chemistry, they have a chance to reach the final 16, and possibly advance once they do.

Fox, though, said Agua Fria does not measure itself by the wins and losses. At the end of the season, he cares about grooming a group of leaders and creating positive memories for his players for years to come.

“Our goal really isn’t the state semifinals or winning the championship,” Fox said. “I know it sounds weird, but we’re focused on getting better every day, being positive, and if we keep doing that and really focus on every match maybe we could get there, and that would just be an added bonus.