Neuqua Valley senior Jake Blackman was named The Sun's 2008 boys volleyball player of the year on Wednesday. A week earlier, he sat down with The Heat Index to discuss Neuqua's season and his future plans.
As for Neuqua's 25-23, 20-25, 25-22 loss to Buffalo Grove in the state semifinals, Blackman said his team didn't give the Bison enough respect. After defeating DuPage Valley Conference champion Glenbard East in the quarterfinals the night before, the Wildcats were not ready to play.
"Beating Glenbard East the game before gave us a lot of confidence, made us a little hot headed," Blackman said. "You know, we could beat anybody. We could do anything. I think we took (Buffalo Grove) a little too lightly."
After winning two consecutive sectional titles and placing third in the state two years in a row, Blackman and company are leaving Neuqua's volleyball program with a significantly higher profile. Blackman said the success on the court should translate to increased interest in the program, which should mean continued success.
"I think getting that recognition, I think kids are now going to try out for volleyball because of what they've seen and what they've heard about the team and the program so far and how it's on the rise," he said.
Blackman will play on the Sports Performance 18-1 team this summer along with fellow Sun All-City players Jon Bunge, Mike Henry, and Matt Yanz. After that he will head to Indiana University and play on the club team there.
That means he will get to play against his older brother Ryan Blackman, who is a senior on the Wisconsin club team.
"He's actually a senior this year, but he's taking five years, so he'll be there next year," Blackman said.