January 12, 2020 – By NJP
Volleyball has been part of Vaughn McConnell’s entire life. From childhood memories of summers on the beach, he has a deep passion for the game instilled by his Dad. He now gets a chance to set for some of the best players in the state during the club season as a member of the Warren Sixpack 18-1 team which is arguably the best NJ has to offer. This experience will serve him well as he enters his senior year at St. Joe’s Metuchen who will be competing for the State Championship and is currently ranked #2 in the state in NJP’s pre-season rankings.
Vaughn’s junior year was impressive racking up 591 assists, 150 digs, 38 kills, 27 blocks, and 20 aces. Just outstanding numbers and we expect them to improve on a Falcons team that appears stacked. NJP preseason report link here: https://njpowerranking.com/st-joes-metuchen-2020-psr/
St. Joe’s is one of the teams that has a solid chance of bringing down the early season favorite Fair Lawn Cutters. They benefit not only from returning an immensely talented group of varsity players but they have one of the top Coaches in the state in Miguel Cabrita. As Vaughn refers to below, he helps create a brotherhood and well cultivated environment that brings out the best in his players
Here is our interview with Vaughn…
So who is Vaughn McConnell?
I am a senior at Saint Joseph High School but I live about 10 miles north in Cranford with my family.
How long have you played volleyball? I started playing volleyball competitively my freshman year of high school.
What inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
Although I started playing competitively my freshmen year, I grew up around volleyball. I come from a pretty big beach volleyball family. My Dad, his brother, and his friends have been setting up the net on 30th street in Avalon, NJ for the past 20+ years. For my whole life every weekend in the summer was filled with beach volleyball. I would watch them play for hours, so it was only natural to start playing in high school. This is the main reason I decided to go to St. Joes since my local public school does not have boys volleyball. My Dad inspired me to take up volleyball and I still get to play beach with him in the summers!
Who is your support group?
My biggest supporter is my Dad. He is at every tournament and game and always records every play. My Mom and sister tie for second. Also, my friend group at school all plays volleyball, so having them around for support and competition helps out my game.
How will your high school team do in the upcoming season? Do you have a lot of returning players? What will be the key to success?
We have high hopes for this upcoming season. We have a main core of starters returning this season in Justin Monahan, Tom Young, Christian Trevino, and myself. Many more returning varsity players are playing in the offseason and developing well. The whole team is very excited for this season and we are focused on winning our conference and then moving further in states.
Tell us about your high school coach?
My coach, Miguel Cabrita, is a great guy. I appreciate him taking a chance on me sophomore year by putting me on the varsity squad and giving me minutes. I still remember the time at freshman year tryouts when I started setting hitting lines, he instantly walked over to me and asked how tall my dad was in order to get an idea on how tall I would be by senior year. He saw my potential. I thank him for believing in me and developing me through my 3 years of varsity into the setter I am today. I have full faith in his leading ability and gameplan decisions. Also cannot forget about the assistant coach, David Arva, who always provides great insight into our play and gives great advice during games.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Do you plan on playing in College? (If so, which ones are you looking at?)
I am committed to Arcadia University and very excited to continue my volleyball career and really improve my skills. The head coach, Eli Porr, really knows what he is doing and led the team to win the MAC conference last year, making them 10th in the nation on the AVCA coach’s national poll. Arcadia is a great fit for me and I am grateful for the opportunity to play for them.
Which schools are your biggest rivals?
East Brunswick is my favorite team to play since they are the whole school’s rivals and they always bring a crowd out to games.
What do you do during the offseason to stay in shape and prepare for next year?
I play for Warren Sixpack in the offseason and play in beach tournaments in the summer with St. Joe’s alumni and former teammate, John Kasztelan. I am in the gym every week and I am constantly watching film.
What is your favorite part of the NJP website?
My favorite part of the NJP website is being able to see the statistics of teams that you wouldn’t normally think about like returning player impact and percent of stats lost.
Who is your favorite college or pro volleyball player and why?
Troy Field is my favorite AVP player. This is because of his “Karch Kiraly” neon pink hat and godly vertical.
Who is your favorite teammate and why?
I love all of my teammates; the “St. Joe’s Brotherhood” is a big part of the team. There is zero problems between players and we all have a lot of fun on and off the court. I believe this is one of the reasons we will go far this season.
What have you improved most in the off-season?
I have really worked on my mental game in the off-season. This school season I am really looking forward to showing off my new mentality during games. In the past, staying level-headed and focusing on the next point was a problem. This year I feel very confident in my mental game and I am going to be the best leader I can for my teammates.