LOMBARD — The distinctive sound of a powerful hit in volleyball is something special.
Everyone in the gym knows it when they hear it, and the other team typically can’t do anything about it.
Glenbard East outside hitter Joey Farrell often gets that extra pop in his swings. The 6-foot-5 senior also has staggering size and wingspan. When he puts his arms in the air to celebrate a point with his teammates, it’s reminiscent of an eagle entering flight.
“He has the physical capabilities, but he’s been playing for so long,” said East coach Marci Maier. “He’s been on varsity for four years. He plays for a high-level club. He’s honed his skills. He has worked really hard to get better and to improve.”
Farrell started playing in seventh grade and soon after starting playing club at Aurora-based Sports Performance. All that time and work in volleyball has shaped Farrell into a Penn State recruit after spending four years on the varsity team at East.
The Nittany Lions are one of the powerhouse programs in men’s volleyball with two national titles and 27 national semifinal appearances.
“I started getting talked to around 15 and 16s (age divisions) when I was playing middle out in nationals with my club team, Sports Performance,” Farrell said of his recruitment. “They liked what they saw. We just kept talking and I committed early in September.”
Despite his experience, pedigree and college future, Farrell is still humble when it comes to volleyball. He dismissed any notion that individual success satisfies him.
“I think the best part about volleyball is just getting close to the team and getting the big W,” Farrell said. “It’s really fun getting kills and big blocks, but just the W is what we’re looking for.”
Over the past year, Farrell has worked hard to play in the full rotation. Maier noted his improvement in the back row as the biggest change in his game this year.
Farrell is hoping that hard work can add up to an appearance at state to end his high school career.
“We’ve had a few ups and downs, but I think towards the end of the season our coach always says it’s practice until the postseason,” Farrell said. “I think that’s when we’re going to peak.”