Middle School Teammates Reunited in FSB-MSJ Match

Junior JJ Porter made his debut with Friends Varsity Boys Volleyball – just in time to face a former classmate playing for Mount Saint Joseph.

Nigel Moore and Sammi Nelson-Saunders

It was a Friday after school. The game was at home, for the Quakes in their dome: Friends vs. Mount Saint Joseph High School, an A-conference match. The crowd that had gathered, September 23rd, was full of energy, and ready to support their team.

The Quakers were handicapped coming in, by the loss of a starting player, Jullian Marquez from the class of ‘26.  The game started out a hard-fought battle, on both sides of the battlefield. Then, senior Declan Creaney spiked the ball, turning the game on its head.

As the Quakes started to gain steam, Mount Saint Joseph’s team kept up. MSJ had a lot of energy. As the 2nd quarter began, MSJ had the lead, and the Quakes needed to pick up the pace to win the game.

As MSJ spiked the ball on our side, sophomore Noah Pangaribuan (#12) and Declan #2 were iron walls when it came to blocking. Subs started coming into the game, and the Quakes took a quick break. The coach called over the team, and they all huddled to discuss a plan to pull off a win.

As the break concluded, a new player for Friends, junior JJ Porter (#23), entered the game. The crowd was excited, and cheered for him. This was J.J’s debut game, but he fit right in with the amount of heart the Quakers have.

Later, JJ said he’d been nervous – but ready to play and contribute to the team. 

Though he’d only attended a few practices before this game, and learned the fundamentals of volleyball, JJ’s performance showed his athleticism and ability to adapt. His primary sport, basketball, really showed through his play-style in this game. He started out strong, with a quick point for Friends, bringing the high ecstatic energy the Quakes needed.

Former middle school teammates Gabe McWhite and JJ Porter were reunited in the September 23rd FSB-MSJ volleyball match. (Nigel Moore)

The consistent libero, junior Alex Richard (#9), continued time and time again to serve the ball up the court, making it hard for Mount Saint Joseph to return it.

Despite all of their efforts, though, the score was now 12:20, with the Quakes falling behind. Only five more points, and the second set would come to a close. 

In a last attempt to save the ball, junior Thi Cost (#11) kicked the ball with the tip of his toe to get it over the net. It almost reached the top of the net – but hit the net on our side. Thi was consistent and stayed in the entire game, but unfortunately the Quakes were on the side of defeat today, and couldn’t pull out the win.

Even though our team lost, there were some takeaways from this match. One was how the match began, with a lack of energy and starting strong. From the start, the Quakes expected a tough match, and this could have gotten in their heads, holding them back from the jump.

Players from both teams had mixed reviews after the match. JJ, senior Owen Miller from FSB, and Gabriel McWhite from MSJ, all weighted in on how the game had gone.

“I thought it was a good game,” said Gabe, a senior at Mount Saint Joseph. “In the third set, JJ really started to show out with the kills and everything.”

JJ agreed it was a solid game.

“I think it went good,” he said. “They just ended up pulling out the win.”

He referred to his new team as a great group of guys, who helped and supported him with his first Friends volleyball game.

In post-game interviews, JJ and Gabe also revealed that they used to play volleyball in middle school together.

“This man’s voice got deep,” joked JJ. “He used to be the squeakiest kid alive.

This game brought them full circle.