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York’s Duda thrives guiding Dukes’ attack as a setter

ELMHURST – A volleyball setter may be the one position in sports that most closely resembles a football quarterback, and that’s why Joe Duda was drawn to the position.

Duda, a York senior, likes the responsibility of the position and that’s part of what has made him successful for the Dukes.

“I like to be the key person on the court, kind of like the quarterback,” Duda said. “I like to make the calls. I like to put my players in the best position to be successful. I want the most important role on the team.”

He started playing volleyball in middle school and joined club team Third Coast Alliance in high school. Duda has put his full focus into volleyball, and has lodged himself into an irreplaceable position on his team.

“Joe is outstanding,” York coach Ken Dowdy said. “He is one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever coached in 13 years of being a coach in basketball and volleyball. He’s our quarterback on the court.”

Not only does Duda lead the team on the floor and set up his teammates, but he also has a killer jump serve. Leave it to one of the few players on the team that doesn’t do any hitting to have the hardest and most consistent serve on the team.

Like how he was drawn to setting, Duda was drawn to the jump serve and has made it a weapon.

“I practice my serve a lot when I can,” Duda said. “I always liked to jump serve since freshman year. It’s what I wanted to do.”

The Dukes entered Thursday’s nonconference match at Hinsdale South with an 11-8 record. Duda had 25 assists in a 25-22, 27-25 victory against Morton on Monday. York picked up its first West Suburban Silver victory against Proviso West, 25-14, 25-15, on Tuesday.

York’s early season schedule provided plenty of top level competition, including top Silver teams Lyons Township and Downers Grove North and defending state champ Downers Grove South, and it was tough sledding for the team, but some of the losses have been close. The Dukes lost 27-25 in the third game against LT, for example, which sparked some hope for improvement.

“As a team the beginning of the season we really didn’t know where we’d stand,” Duda said. “After we played those teams we realized we can play with those teams. We didn’t lose by a lot, we took them to three, they were close games.

“Now as our schedule eases off, we feel like we can go on a winning streak and that can help us with seeding for regionals.”

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