By Dick Dornan
MyBurbank Sports Editor
As the 2013-14 athletic calendar year comes to an end, there might not be a better example of an athlete who made the most of his four years through hard work, commitment and a will to win.
Burbank boys’ volleyball player Joseph Servin has exceeded expectations by having the kind of career that future Bulldogs can only hope to emulate. His journey began from the ground up and Servin took the necessary steps to become one of the best volleyball players in the area.
Servin, 18, came to Burbank High with no intentions to play volleyball. He had never played the sport as a youth. He was a soccer enthusiast at heart who joined the swim team in the spring of his freshman year. Safe to say, swimming was not a splash hit for Servin.
“I thought volleyball was a sport for chicks,” Servin said. “I was into soccer. But then I tried out for volleyball and just loved it.”
A friend asked him to try-out for volleyball and the rest is history. He left swimming and made a move that would serve him well.
Servin progressed through the program one level at a time: frosh-soph, to junior varsity and varsity for the last two years. He didn’t bypass any level but rather stayed the course developing each year under the watchful eyes of Burbank coach Patrick McMenamin.
“Joseph has been a program kid that’s developed through the levels,” McMenamin said. “He is giving the younger kids in our program something to shoot for with what he has done.”
By the end of this past regular season, the senior opposite hitter had set three school records. Entering the playoffs, Servin had recorded 180 kills in a season and a .241 hitting percentage; best all-time marks ever at Burbank. He also had a program-record 15 kills in one game versus Glendale back on April 4.
His all-around play shines everywhere on the stat sheet, from kills to digs (98), assists (28), aces (15) and blocks (11).
“He’s been our biggest contributor offensively. He’s been our go-to-guy,” McMenamin said. “There have been times when we have been in tough spots and we needed to rely on him with his hitting ability and he’s come through for us.”
Servin has played a major role in Burbank’s resurgence in boys’ volleyball. After the program was disbanded for two years, McMenamin came aboard in 2011 to resurrect it. Little did he realize at the time that Servin would be the driving force behind the success that came so rapidly to Burbank.
“When I started as a freshman, this program was basically nothing. We were just kids who wanted to try out this new sport. In four years we exploded,” Servin said. “It’s crazy how our season has been and how skillful we have gotten over the years. Being a four-year player means a lot to me. I appreciate what we have done.”
The Bulldogs made the playoffs in 2013 despite going 11-18. They lost 10 players to graduation but that didn’t affect Servin’s approach to his final season. If anything, it motived him.
“He definitely has some confidence and swagger,” said McMenamin. “He loves competing. He has the desire to be on a winning team which has helped.”
Behind Servin’s passionate and positive attitude, Burbank broke out to a 10-1 start and finished the regular season 16-5 overall and 9-3 in league, good enough for second place.
“We set goals one game at a time,” Servin said. “The match we are playing is the most important one of the year. With that mentality you have a much better chance of winning.”
Five years ago at this time, the Burbank gym was quiet and devoid of bouncing volleyballs and yells from teenage boys who would eventually enjoy the thrill of spiking, blocking and chest-bumping.
Now the Bulldogs have made the playoffs for the second year in a row, large in part to the tremendous growth and development of Servin.
“This senior year has been the best year of my high school career with volleyball,” he said. “We had by far the most successful season of the entire program’s history. This whole team was completely brand new this summer. We really came together as a team. We made something special out of this season.”
While Servin has demonstrated his ability to be the king on the court, he also received one of the greatest honors in high school to be king of the court. He was chosen by the senior class to be Prom King. To make it even more special, his girlfriend Brianna Krejsa was voted to be Prom Queen.
“Being prom king is something I will never forget,” Servin said. “And volleyball has been a big part of my high school life. I made many good friends. It’s been a great four years.”