The Varee brothers are among the best volleyball players to ever compete in District 10. But never did Jordan, Ben and Nolan have the opportunity to play together on the same court in front of area fans. Until now. And they are bringing along their cousins, too.
“Having the chance to play with my brothers, Ben and Nolan, is a rare occasion, but it is always a good time,” said Jordan Varee, who has competed abroad and was a member of the USA Volleyball developmental team for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “The best part is that we all play a different position on the court so there is no trying to decide who is going to play and who is not.
“We are all very competitive, so if we would have had the chance to play together in high school it would have been interesting.”
The brothers were afforded the opportunity to play together when invited to participate in the third annual District 10 boys volleyball alumni tournament, organized by Maplewood graduate and current Fort LeBoeuf boys volleyball coach Robert Cierniakoski. The third installment is set for Saturday at 2 p.m at Fort LeBoeuf high school and features eight teams.
“Based off the rosters that were submitted by the deadline, this looks like it could be the most competitive field of teams yet,” Cierniakoski said. “All year I see guys from other teams and they talk about the tournament. It has really become a prestigious tournament with friendly trash-talk and the ultimate prize being bragging rights till next year.”
Of course, the trophy is the real prize, but most of the young men are just happy to get back on the court and play a game they enjoyed for so long. For the Varee brothers, it’s an opportunity to pay homage to the person who first sparked their love for volleyball and bring the family together.
“I think all three of us would agree that if not for our grandfather and role model, Jim Shreve, volleyball would not have been as rewarding or meaningful for us,” Jordan said. “We also get to play with our cousins, Tyler Mattera and Zach Scott, so at the very least it will be an enjoyable day with family.
“Last, but not least, we all get to play with the legend, Greg Gessner, who throughout the years has played an extremely significant role in our development as volleyball players.”
Conneaut Valley’s roster is pretty stout and CV could be one of the last teams standing Saturday night. It will have to get past Maplewood and Cambridge Springs first.
Maplewood and Cambridge Springs have appeared in the finals the last two seasons with Maplewood taking home the trophy. The remaining five teams competing in the tournament are pretty solid themselves.
Here are the rosters:
• Maplewood — Rob Cierniakoski (2008), Ron Cierniakoski (2006), Guy Dunkle (2001), Jake Ferguson (2006), Jake Snyder (2011), Austin Acel (2012), Corey Hamilton (2010) and Nick Bancroft (2009).
• Fort LeBoeuf — Travis Pietkiewicz (2015), Andrew Hicks (2015), Steven Sanden (2013), Caden Gilson (2014).
• Cochranton — Ryan Malliard (2005), Adam Roche (2009), Josh Oertly (2012), Ty Sheehan (2011), Logan Herzberger (2014), Nate Roche (2013), Casey Dale (2003), Nick Dickson (2014).
• Meadville — Tanner Stanton (2014), Tyler Minnis (2013), Tom Ness (2011), Rob Stainbrook (2013), Tom Leach (2014), Sam Wyman (2014), Alex Minnis (2012) and Matt Izbinski (2013).
• Cambridge Springs — Jared Ferris (2015), Lucas Acker (2009), Matt McMunigle (2009), Colton Spaid (2009), James Tobin (2009), Tyler Dunton (2009) and John Turner (2011).
• Saegertown — Shane Rigby (2013), Jason Amy (2011), Pat Amy (2010), Darren Amy (2006), Brendon Barclay (2015).
• McDowell — Jonathon Strub (2001), Aaron Kopay (2009), Ryan Calhoun (2013), Brenton Mineo (2009), Christian Mineo (2011), Luke Vensel (2013).
• Conneaut Valley — Zach Scott (2005), Joel Chapman (2004), Ben Varee (2008), Mill Adkins (2003), Greg Gessner (1987), Jordan Varee (2006), Nolan Varee (2012) and Tyler Mattera (2005).
All eight teams will make the finals, which are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.
“I think the alumni tournament is a great way to not only play against former competitors and catch up with friends, but it’s also a way to promote the growth and development of District 10 volleyball,” Jordan said. “As alumni of this area, we all want to see the District 10 teams continue to have the success that they have shown in the past and in recent years.”