October 17, 2020 – By NJP
The Fair Lawn Cutters were primed for what could have been one of the greatest NJ high school volleyball campaigns of all-time. All of the pieces of the puzzle appeared to be coming together at the same time with standout players at every position. Mark Berry and Jack Centeno at outside, Gil Zyndorf setting, Alex Work at Libero, Dennis Narteh at middle, and Michael Patel and Artem Nososelov at opposite. Then a pandemic hit and the season was cancelled. 6 of those seven players are gone to graduation. And the Cutters are restocking and re-tooling for the new Spring season in 2021.
Cobey Sedaka will be part of the new look Cutters. The junior has stepped up to play SideOut Sports 18-1 along with a couple of his Fair Lawn classmates 6’4″ middle Itay Akad and DS Massimo Caravaglia. Gil Zyndorf, who was the best setter statistically in NJ high school volleyball amassing almost 1,000 assists in his sophomore season, will quarterback the new look squad. There are also three returning varsity players DS Hari Patel, middle Adwait Ganguly, and outside Roee Shalom. The Cutters are one of the deepest squads in NJ and we expect them to rebound from the missed season with a very strong team for 21.
Cobey is following in his brother Dan’s footsteps. Dan had outstanding seasons on 2016-17 and 2017-18 in his junior and senior years. He was an anchor at outside with amazing stats on both attack and defense as well as strong leadership skills on the court. Cobey has used his brothers example to motivate him to step up and contribute the same way for his last two years of high school.
Sedaka jumped in last year at SOS 16-1 National and produced an immensly successful club season with a second place finish in the Atlantic City Invitational and a First place finish in the Harrisburg, PA BANE tourney. Cobey had an oustanding season as a leader and libero and showed versatility, athleticism, and quickness as well as strong passing touch.
His experience at SOS this winter season will be invaluable as he will be facing older and stronger players, certainly raising his game with reps against a higher caliber of opponents. Whoever will step into the shoes as starting libero after Alex Work’s performance over the past 4 years will surely be a challenge. But with Cobey’s grit and energy level, along with his pedigree, don’t be suprised to see another Sedaka as a leader as a junior.
Here is our interview with Cobey Sedaka…
Tell us a bit about yourself, Cobey?
My name is Cobey Sedaka, I am a junior at Fair Lawn High School, in the class of 2022. I have 2 older brothers, both of which played volleyball and soccer for Fair Lawn. My oldest brother Adam is 29 and lives in Philadelphia, and my other brother Daniel graduated two years ago from FLHS and is now a junior at the University of Richmond.
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
Although my town doesn’t offer a middle school league for volleyball, I have been playing since the sixth grade. Throughout middle school I attended lots of camps and clinics for volleyball. I was inspired to start playing because of my older brothers, Adam and Daniel, who had both played during their time at Fair Lawn High School. I used to go watch my brother Daniel play volleyball all the time at his high school games, which got me hooked on the sport. I began to love to play, and would take any opportunity to do so. In eighth grade was my first high school volleyball experience, when I was invited to participate in off-season practices. Watching all the amazing upperclassmen play was an inspiration to me, and made me want to practice and learn more so that one day I could become as good as them.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?
My height is 5’7, and I have a vertical of 24 inches. I started playing volleyball as an outside hitter my freshman year, but when I played for my club team, SideOut Sports, in the off-season during sophomore year, I began to play setter and libero. For my club team, I am currently the libero on the 18-1 team. I love to play libero because you are a part of almost every play, and the leader of the court. Every hit or set that could happen depends on you and the pass you make.
Tell us about your Cutter teammates. Who do you expect will be this year’s standout and up and coming players?
There are lots of great players that are going to be on the team this year, but the ones that I expect to be this year’s standout players are my teammates and friends Itay Akad and Massimo Caravaglia. The three of us have taken every opportunity in the off-season to practice as much as possible, playing outside on grass whenever the weather is nice, and even renting out a gym to practice. Itay(middle) has a strong swing and great athleticism, and Massimo(Outside) has a great swing as well as solid passing. I think that we are going to have a great season at Fair Lawn this year, and that we have a lot of potential.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Do you plan on playing volleyball in College? (If so, which ones are you looking at?)
I love to play volleyball, and I do plan on playing during my college years. My dream schools for the future are Yale and Duke, and while Yale does not have a volleyball program Duke does and it would be a dream of mine to play on their team. If I cannot play volleyball at a school I am interested in academically, I do plan to continue with the sport in beach or club leagues.
You had an outstanding club season at SideOut Sports 16-1 National team and you are rising up to play on the 18-1 squad this winter which was a top 3 three club team last season. Tell us about your experience at SOS and how the current team is coming together.
SideOut Sports is a great club organization, with fantastic coaches and an amazing facility, and due to this we had a great season last year on the 16-1 National team. The coaches really taught us a lot and helped each and every one of us develop our skills and become much better players. At the tournaments, me and all of my teammates really bonded, especially over our trips to Wawa. This bond carried over into this season, as many of my past teammates are now with me on the 18-1 squad. The team this year is looking fantastic, with a lot of strong hitters and great passers. Our coach, Jason, is really bringing the team together and helping us better hone our skills. I believe that this upcoming season is going to be a great one for SOS.
Last year, with the season cancellation, was a bitter pill to swallow for FL as they clearly had an abundance of talent as well as the NJP #1 preseason ranking. What is your expectation for this years Fair Lawn squad?
Last year Fair Lawn lost a great squad due to the season being cancelled, a squad that had a great chance at winning states, but I think this year’s team has a lot of potential and talent. This year the Fair Lawn squad is going to have a lot of great players, and I think that we could have a good chance at states just like we would have last year. We lost a lot of amazing players and role models, but there are still a lot of upperclassmen from the team that are very skilled and who will help develop the team.
Tell us about your high school Coach Peter Zisa.
Our coach at Fair Lawn, Peter Zisa, is very passionate about the sport and is constantly helping each and every player to develop their skills and become the best they can be. Coach Zisa is always coming up with new drills and ideas to help us hone our abilities in the sport. During the pre-season, he does everything he can to help us stay in shape and get better for when we actually play. Whether it is by organizing captains practices or runs, or telling the players about club opportunities, he always tries his hardest to make sure that all of the players are practicing to prepare for the season. Coach Zisa is devoted to helping every player become the best they can be, and he shows this on the court by giving pep talks to encourage the team, helping anyone fix mistakes and improve on them, and using his amazing coaching skills to help the team play at it’s best.
Your brother Dan had a great high school career playing volleyball and soccer. How did his success influence your involvement in FL volleyball?
My brother Daniel was actually the reason I started playing volleyball. I have always looked up to him as my biggest role model. When I was younger, Daniel and his friends would always come over to play volleyball with me, and as time went on I realized that I wanted to play just like him. When he began to play in high school, I would always go watch his games and think to myself how one day I wanted to be just as good as him, which drove me to constantly practice and do everything I could to get better at the sport. As he succeeded in Fair Lawn volleyball, becoming an amazing player and winning so much, it drove me to keep going so that one day I could be as good as him, maybe even better.
What do you do during the offseason to stay in shape and prepare for next year? Do you play other sports? (if so, which ones?)
When I am in the off-season and not playing volleyball for Fair Lawn High School, I play club for SideOut Sports. I also do daily workouts and spend a lot of my free time outside either playing volleyball with a friend or just running around shooting a basketball. I like to be outside a lot, and when I’m not doing schoolwork or relaxing inside I will always do some physical activity.
Who is your support group?
My biggest support group would be my mom, my brothers Daniel and Adam, and my girlfriend, Melanie. All of them are always there at my games during the high school season, and my tournaments during the club season, and are always cheering for me and hyping me up. They are the ones who help me with everything in life, and I most definitely would not be where I am today without them. Without their encouragement, I wouldn’t be able to play the best I can in all of my games and tournaments, and I wouldn’t be able to work as hard without them pushing me to always try at everything no matter what. They are the biggest and best support group I could ever ask for and I am unbelievably lucky to have them all to always be there for me.
What is your favorite volleyball story?
What is probably my favorite volleyball story ever is the one game at the Atlantic City Invitational tournament where I got to play as an outside hitter. I originally began playing volleyball as an OH, and I still love to hit despite being a libero, so getting to play that position in an actual game was so great. That game we were playing against a team from CJVA, and our coach decided to let me hit for just one set. I ended up getting a few kills, and it was so fun and exciting.
What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?
When I go to college, I plan on studying history and education. My dream is to become either a history teacher at a high school, or a professor at a university. I have always loved history and learning about the past, so I want to make teaching it to others my career in the future.
Who is your favorite college or pro volleyball player and why?
My favorite college volleyball player is Gage Worsley, the libero for the University of Hawai’i. I love to watch volleyball and I always watch games when they happen, especially for big schools like Hawai’i or Long Beach, so watching Worsley play with such a good team is so cool to me. When I watch him play I am mind blown at some of the passes and digs he gets up and how good of a player he is. There are a lot of good liberos out there, but he is one of the best which is why he is my favorite player.