There was a time when Luke King was a defensive player.
“I was a libero when I was younger,” said the Southern junior standout.
Heading into his freshman year, King moved to setter. The rest is history — pleasant history — as he has blossomed into one of New Jersey’s top playmakers.
King handed out 708 assists and added 31 blocks and 26 aces this year. His play led the Rams to a 39-2 record and the Shore Conference Class A South, Shore Conference Tournament, Southern Invitational and NJSIAA South Jersey Tournament titles. The Rams advanced to the NJSIAA Tournament state championship match, which they lost to Fair Lawn for the second straight year.
“It took me a couple of months to get used to playing setter,” King said.
Make no mistakes about it. King is perfectly comfortable at setter.
“I enjoy it,” King said. “I am always involved in our play.”
King’s favorite player to set the ball to is 6-foot-6 sophomore middle blocker Mike Gesicki.
“He’s the easiest guy to set to,” King said. “He adjusts well so I don’t have to worry about putting the ball in the perefect place.”
“I played some outside hitter this year and Luke was able to set me up lot more,” Gesicki said. “That helped our chemistry. Luke can take a bad pass and turn it into a good set.”
King, whose team won its first 30 matches of the season, left the court frustrated after the loss to Fair Lawn. The Rams had beaten the Cutters in the first two matches of the year between the teams.
“Our season was good until the end,” he said. “That loss kind of dampened it, but we can’t complain about 39-2.”
King played libero with the Warren Six Pack.
“He could very easily be a libero these days because of his defensive ability,” Southern coach Eric Maxwell said, “but we get more out of him as a setter. He has said if the team needed him to play defense he would do it. That is an interesting comment. It goes to show you the player he is. He wants to help the team win.”
The name King is prominent in Southern volleyball circles. Luke’s brothers, Tom (a 2005 graduate) and Nolan (a 2007 grad) played for the Rams.
“Luke has been around the game for years,” Maxwell said. “I remember seeing him peppering the ball on the sidelines in our gym when his brothers played. He touched the ball for thousands of hours with his brothers. All of that has led to him having a good touch on the ball, a good feel and a good knowledge of the game.”
King sees himself as one of the Rams’ key players.
“I see my role as a leader,” King said. “I have to get everyone involved and keep everyone happy. I have to spread the ball around. That keeps everyone happy.”
Maxwell said he has nothing to worry about when King is on the court.
“I can rely on Luke to run the offense,” Maxwell said. “I don’t have to say a whole lot to him in terms of who to set and which plays to run. It’s nice to have that kind of leadership on the court. He keeps the defense guessing. “