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Homewood-Flossmoor’s Ahmad Powell played basketball. Then he picked up a volleyball. ‘Let me see what this is about.’

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In eighth grade, Ahmad Powell attended a few Homewood-Flossmoor boys volleyball matches.

They literally turned out to be a game-changer for him.

A basketball player turned into a volleyball standout because of those matches.

“It brought my attention to volleyball,” Powell said. “I played basketball and I wanted to play another sport. I saw volleyball and I was like, ‘Let me see what this is about.’’’

He said he played basketball for a year at H-F but decided to play club volleyball and then went exclusively with that sport.

Had he stuck with basketball, there’s a chance he could have been on the roster of the team that just won the Class 4A state championship for the first time in program history.

But Powell has no regrets.

“They did their thing, with or without me,” he said with a smile.

Homewood-Flossmoor's Ahmad Powell (14) returns the serve against Sandburg during a Southwest Suburban Conference game Tuesday, May 7, 2024 in Orland Park, IL. (Steve Johnston/Daily Southtown)
Homewood-Flossmoor’s Ahmad Powell (14) returns a serve against Sandburg during a SouthWest Suburban Conference match in Orland Park on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Steve Johnston / Daily Southtown)

A grinning Powell did his thing Tuesday night in Orland Park.

The junior outside hitter excelled for the Vikings with 10 kills, a pair of aces and some acrobatic digs in a 25-22, 19-25, 31-29 SouthWest Suburban Conference victory over Sandburg.

Nate Epley contributed nine kills, including six in the marathon third game for H-F (23-7, 2-3). Lane Sunley tallied four kills and four solo blocks, while Tarendran Heyward added 28 assists.

Jeremiah Aro led Sandburg (15-9, 3-2) with 11 kills. Will Ashum followed with nine.

The two teams combined for 30 serving errors in the match, with H-F guilty of 17.

“That was an uncharacteristic game for us,” Powell said. “But we did what we needed to do and got the job done. We could have gotten out here quicker, but you just have to play through.”

The Vikings were in a slide, going 2-4 in their previous six matches. This win on the road could get them back on the right track.

“It’s revolutionary because of the way we are coming back,” Powell said of the victory. “We’re getting better passes and getting better sets. We’re connecting more.

“It’s imperative because the past few games we haven’t been connecting.”

Homewood-Flossmoor's Nathan Epley (10) sends the ball past Sandburg's Easton Donausky (11) during a Southwest Suburban Conference game Tuesday, May 7, 2024 in Orland Park, IL. (Steve Johnston/Daily Southtown)
Homewood-Flossmoor’s Nate Epley (10) sends the ball past Sandburg’s Easton Donausky (11) during a SouthWest Suburban Conference match in Orland Park on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Steve Johnston / Daily Southtown)

The 6-foot Powell has shown a variety of skills this spring with his hitting, serving and defense.

“He’s a great athlete,” H-F coach Mark Ciesielski said of Powell. “The kid has a 32-inch vertical jump, and he’s the strongest kid you are ever going to find.

“He’s also smart. He’s a class president, a top student in his class, and leads by example. This year, we’ve looked to him to be a verbal leader, too.”

Heyward knows when he sets Powell the ball, good things are usually going to happen.

“He’s good,” Heyward said of Powell. “He jumps out of the gym. This is my first year of setting, and I’m usually an outside hitter. I feel like I have a perspective on how outsides work.

“He just plays it very well.”

Heyward said he has some colleges looking at him, but he’s undecided if he wants to continue at the next level.

“I’m playing like it’s our farewell tour,” Heyward said. “We want to bring home any medal we can or any plaque that we can and end the legacy at H-F.”

Homewood-Flossmoor's Ahmad Powell (14) goes up for a serve attempt against Sandburg during a Southwest Suburban Conference game Tuesday, May 7, 2024 in Orland Park, IL. (Steve Johnston/Daily Southtown)
Homewood-Flossmoor’s Ahmad Powell (14) jumps on a serve attempt against Sandburg during a SouthWest Suburban Conference match in Orland Park on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Steve Johnston / Daily Southtown)

Powell, who plays club in the offseason for Ultimate, said he has not received any college interest yet, but Ciesielski hopes his talented outside will land as a school such at Stanford or Harvard.

It’s not just athletics for Powell, who takes his academic work seriously.

“Science really gets my attention,” he said. “I like physics. It makes sense of everything. Physics is the science of the world. I like math.

“And I like gym, too. All of these are fun subjects.”

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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Jeff Vorva , 2024-05-08 16:20:16

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