February 16, 2020 – By NJP

Brian Michaels does not run short on confidence. As you read his interview you certainly get a sense that there are very high expectations in Pantherland. NJP certainly thinks Bridgewater Raritan is one of the top teams in the state for 2020. They earned a #6 pre-season ranking. And have NJP’s player of the year for 2019 on their squad in Griffin Fieseler.

Like many other years, Bridgewater lost 8 seniors. A big advantage of having a school their size is they ALWAYS have top flight players waiting in the wings to get their chance at the varsity squad. This year will be no different.

Brian is destined to be the starting outside. His performance as a junior statistically was commendable. He notched 180 kills, 12 blocks, and 99 digs. With an increased roll, he is sure to equal or improve those numbers. And there is no doubt that Brian is putting in the effort in the gym during the off season. He already has a substantial vertical and has been working on making it even better.

It sounds like Brian is drawing a line in the sand and daring opponents to cross it. He is motivated and determined to bring home a state championship. We wish him well…

Here is our interview with Brian…

Tell us a bit about yourself Brian?

I go to Bridgewater-Raritan High school in Bridgewater, NJ. I’m graduating in the class of 2020. I am in a family of 4 with an older brother who also played volleyball and was in the stands when we won States in 2015.

How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?

I have been playing volleyball since summer going into freshman year. Seeing BJ Blair and Danny Gallagher dominate in the 2015 state finals made me want that and inspired me to not only play volleyball but bring another state championship to BR when it’s my time.

(L-R) Matt Morin, #7, BJ Blair #1, and Brian Gao #2 of Bridgewater-Raritan celebrate a point during their 2-0 victory over Southern Regional in the NJSIAA boys volleyball final on June 4, 2015 at South Brunswick High School (Courtesy of USA Today)

What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc… What’s your favorite position to play?

I am 6’0” with a 34” vertical. I am an outside hitter and don’t play club as my family can’t afford it. My favorite position to play is outside, the satisfaction of blocking someone while talking trash is a wonderful feeling.

Which player last season was the toughest competitor that you faced and why?

Old Bridge because the combination of Justin Tuohy and Andrew Zaleck was unstoppable, even though I did block Andrew once.

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 expect a state championship and have high expectations for our team this year. We have 6 or 7 returning players. The key to success is everyone playing their game, also our D-1 setter will show the state how great he really is.

Who is your support group?

My support group are my teammates and coaches.

Panthers Varsity Head Coach Corey Romanak

Tell us about your high school coach?

My high school coach is the best coach in the nation in Corey Romanak. Not only is he a great coach but he is an even better player.

Have you won any awards such as All County or All State or others?

Last year I won Second team all county. This year I hold high expectations for myself in getting an all state award.

Which schools is your biggest rival?


What do you do during the offseason to stay in shape and prepare for next year? (Club team? Workouts? Watch VB vids? Go to College games?) Do you play other sports? (if so, which ones?)

I workout at least 6 days a week getting bigger in the weight room. Not only do i work on building muscle mass, I work on increasing my vertical by squatting and doing other exercises. It’s always grind time.

4-time AVCA All American
Taylor Sander

Who is your favorite college or pro volleyball player and why?

Taylor Sander, he is the goat and I feel like I play similar to him as he is an outside hitter as well.

Who is your favorite teammate and why?

David Bayatmakou aka Bayat. He is my best friend and ever since last season we have talked about starting this season and ending it with a trophy in our hands. We both push each other in the weight room and on the court.

Is there a teacher or coach who really helped you along the way?

My current coach Corey Romanak. He is never satisfied with anything I do which pushes me to get better everyday.

Who do you think will win the State Championship?

Bridgewater-Raritan Panthers. It’s kind of scary on how bad we all want to win states. Expect big things from us this year.

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