February 24, 2020 – By NJP
Kevin Duarte is not just your routine libero. When you interact with him, you just feel that sense of grit and toughness… the determination and willingness to do whatever it takes for his team to be successful.
Last year, Immaculate toughed it out with no seniors on the team. They made state playoffs with a 16-7 record and basically return their entire team, a year older, and primed for a big season. Their top 100 rating in 2019 has been cut in half with their 2020 pre-season ranking of 48. And if all comes together with this band of brothers, we can see Immaculate even higher.
So how good was Kevin last season? We broke down all of this years players eliminating all 2019 grads and Kevin was fourth in the state in digs. You have heard NJP talk about Alex Work at Fair Lawn and how dominant he has been as NJ’s best libero. Alex had 440 digs in 2019. Kevin had 336. There is one difference to note… Alex accomplished his 440 digs in 87 sets. Kevin had just 47. One can argue the level of competition that Alex faced was far greater and our Schedule Strength Factor certainly confirms that. But obviously a factor out of Kevin’s control. He has done everything he has been asked to do to make the team successful and this year will be no different.
Here is our interview with Kevin…
Tell us a bit about yourself? (What school do you attend, what town do you live? What year are you graduating?, family?, etc…)
I am a senior at Immaculate Conception high school in Montclair and currently live in Orange. I’ve been playing volleyball for 6 years, and have been a libero for 4 years. I am very competitive and love being active and competing with friends.
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
I’ve played volleyball for 6 years now. I remember wanting to play volleyball with the grown ups at the beach when I was really young and I wasn’t really any good. So I decided to try out for my middle school team to improve and ever since I’ve loved competing.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc… What’s your favorite position to play?
I am 5’9 and weight 162 lbs.
I am a libero and played club only in sixth grade at Allegro.
My vertical is 27 inches.
Which player last season was the toughest competitor that you faced and why?
The toughest competitor was my good friend Christian Prophete from West Caldwell Tech. He is an amazing middle with incredible jumping and hitting. We tried our best against their team but lost to them last season. I gave it my all and made sure I dug up every one of his hits.
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?
I feel very confident in this upcoming season and feel like we will do very well. We were a young team last year that made it to state’s and the Essex County tournament without any seniors. Our starting 6 will be returning. Me and my friend Johan Civil stepped up as Captains and made sure the whole team trained in the off season and kept our team together all season long. The key to success is being hungry enough to play hard and win. As a team we need to work on communication and have each others back. As Captain, I will make sure to pick up all my players when they are down and motivate them to keep pushing.
Who is your support group?
My mom is my biggest supporter and goes to all my games and cheers me on. She even brings the team snacks.
Tell us about your school?
Immaculate is a very small school but we are a family. We don’t have much or get much money. Only the basketball team has that privilege. The school, despite its many challenges, tried its best to keep the family close and tight and move past difficult situations. Academically, I’ve been pushed all 4 years and have been able to be a straight A student .
Tell us about your high school coach?
My high school coach, Phil Schaefer, is an amazing volleyball player himself. He’s played volleyball for about 20+ years. He coaches club and school volleyball. He really pushed us all so hard and expected so much out of us. He loves us and gives us all his volleyball knowledge to execute on the court. He is strict, but still a fun guy.
Have you won any awards such as All County or All State or others?
I was First Team All Conference last year and sophomore year I was Second Team All Conference.
What is your favorite inspirational video that you like to watch before the games?
Rocky’s speech of always getting back up…
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?)
Definitely looking to play in college hopefully for Ramapo or Kean if they’ll have me, I’m still open to options.
Which schools are your biggest rivals?
West Orange and Bloomfield.
What are your other hobbies?
I play football and work out a lot. I played varsity football all 4 years of high school.