Erik Egan didn’t begin playing volleyball until he was a freshmen at Sterling High School. But once he did, he was hooked.
“I played football, baseball and basketball growing up and I played freshman football,” he said. “But with football I was bored at practice. There is a lot of standing around. With volleyball I am always looking forward to practice.”
Egan has obviously made the most of his practice time.
It shows in his accomplishments. As a sophomore, he made second team all-Olympic Conference. Last year, he made first-team all-conference, first-team All-South Jersey and was named South Jersey Player of the Year. He was also third-team all-state.
This year he is the senior leader on the Silver Knights boys' volleyball team which is ranked 11th in the state in the latest nj.com state poll with a 12-1 record.
“He is an outstanding player,” said Eastern High School coach Tom Armour. “He makes that team go."
Egan‘s game stats bear that out.
In a match against Armour’s 4th-rated Vikings, which pinned the only loss on the Silver Knights so far this season, Egan had 10 kills and six digs.
A couple of days later he had 14 kills, two blocks and seven digs against Moorestown.
In his two most recent matches, Egan registered 11 kills and seven digs against Pennsauken Tech and 15 kills and nine digs against Clearview. He puts up numbers like that every match.
Egan also became the first player in Sterling High School history to eclipse 500 career kills, doing so after recording 17 in a 2-0 (25-19, 25-17) win over Paul VI late last month.
“He’s been the best player in the program for the past three years,” said Sterling coach Dan Stuart. “He’s been playing club for the past three or four years and he just keeps getting better. He can score from every spot on the floor. He’s our best defender and he’s been a leader on the team for the past two years.”
Other than the Eastern match, which the Silver Knights lost 2-0, they have not a lost a game. Each of their 12 wins has been by the score of 2-0.
Egan’s leadership on the floor, both in practice and during matches, has been invaluable. He shares the experience gained playing with the South Jersey Volleyball Club with his Sterling teammates.
“I kind of help everyone with positioning,” said Egan who says he leads both by example and vocally. “I let them know when they’ve done something wrong and help them correct it. I try and show them what to do in certain situations and where they need to be.”
Certainly some of his volleyball acumen has to be credited to his family history. His older siblings Jessica and Tyler each played the sport at Sterling and graduated in 2010 and '12, respectively.
As much as Egan does for the Silver Knights, both with his play and through his leadership, he will be the first to point out it’s a team effort. Their record wouldn’t be what it is without a solid group of teammates and the chemistry that exists between them.
“The difference is, as a team, we are very close,” Egan explained. “We all know each other and we like being around each other. Our team has a lot of fun together. When I see one of the other guys jump up and get a kill, it’s a great feeling. I like it.
“We have two good middles in Marvin Jones and Arios Pierre-Louis. Our setter, Jared Morales, is coming on. I’ve played with three different setters in three years, but this year the chemistry is getting a lot better.”
Egan said he will probably attend Camden County College next year and work on his game playing in local men’s leagues. Eventually he plans to transfer to Kean University (Union, N.J.) and play there. The Cougars have a solid program and were one of eight teams in the nation to reach the 2014 NCAA Division III Championships.
But all of that is in the future. There is still some unfinished business.
“We definitely want to make it to states,” he said. “We hope to get far. I think we can make it through South Jersey if we come together as a team. That’s what happened at the Moorestown Tournament. We were focused and we clearly played well together. Everybody is going to have to be on when we get to states.”
Charlie Sprang is a reporter for South Jersey Sports Digest. He can be reached at email@example.com.