Cuba-Rushford went 15-0 to capture the ACAA Boys’ Volleyball Championship with a sweep over Arkport-Canaseraga. From left are, C-R Coach Nick Perillo, Maddox Keller, Anderson Seigel, Allen Fuller, Nate Cole, Haven Kellogg, Andrew Achey, Jarrett Campbell, Logan Lewis, Assistant Coach Mason Adams and Assistant Coach Bree Kus.
By JOHN ANDERSON
When the 2020-2021 boys’ winter volleyball season started for teams in Allegany and Steuben counties, it appeared four teams had a chance at the title.
But as each week went on, Cuba-Rushford was at the top of the list. When the season ended, the Rebels achieved perfection with a 25-11, 25-21, 25-10 sweep of Arkport-Canaseraga to finish 15-0.
The championship is a reminder Cuba-Rushford has been dominant in boys and girls volleyball over the past two decades in Allegany County. In recent years, Wellsville’s girls and boys have returned to glory, but the long-term wins have come in Cuba.
For sixth-year Cuba-Rushford coach Nick Perillo, he has two legends who made sure they shared with him the knowledge to make sure the program would succeed.
Perillo played in beach volleyball leagues, but had not coached. Former C-R coach Coston Hillman helped in the early years.
Then, WNY Hall of Fame coach Sally Kus moved into the district and started helping with all levels. Middle school students had no idea the person teaching them the basics compiled a national record of 792-29 in high school with a national coach of the year award and was a Division I coach. Perillo did, and he gets to learn from her daily, as Kus is his teaching assistant.
Perillo also has Mason Adams and Bree Kus on his staff. With that much knowledge and eight outstanding student-athletes, the title was a matter of time.
“When I got into coaching, I was just trying to help wherever I could in the school and community at a new school,” Perillo said. “It definitely helped that we had a great group of guys on the team that could help me learn as the year went on. With my limited competitive volleyball background, I learned a lot from Colston Hillman when getting started and even more from Western New York legend Sally Kus. Sally has helped me immensely throughout the years to really understand the game.”
During the championship win, the second title in three years for C-R, Nate Cole had seven kills, five blocks and two digs. Logan Lewis had five kills, two aces and an assist while setter Allen Fuller had 15 assists and four kills.
“This group of boys this year were amazing. We had a perfect split of first year players (four) and returning players (four).,” Perillo said. “Three of the four returners (Allen Fuller, Haven Kellogg, and Jarrett Campbell) all started the year we won our first championship in 2020. That really hooked them on volleyball because they were hesitant at the start.
“They then recruited Nate Cole for the next year who slowly figured it out and found a passion for it as well. This year with the additions of Logan Lewis, Andrew Achey and Andersen Seigel, we now had depth in every position” Perillo continued. “The biggest challenges we dealt with were our injuries, quarantines, and other issues, but still managed to put six guys out there at different positions and get the job done. It was really fun to watch.”
Perillo admits he knew the competition in the league and with so many new players, was hoping to be competitive.
“At the start of this year I thought we would be pretty good but I couldn’t have guessed we’d go undefeated and win the championship! These boys continued to prove themselves daily as the season went on,” Perillo said. “One of our freshman and first year players, Anderson Seigel, played literally every position throughout the year and I think that type of mentality is what helped them find so much success. Just a willingness to do what it takes to win. There was also one payer who unfortunately wasn’t able to stay on the team all year, but was very important to the team’s successes early in the season and that’s Max Hinckley.”
Perillo will graduate two huge hitters in Cole and Lewis and veteran Jarrett Campbell who was on the 2020 title team. He hopes the returning players carry on the tradition and new faces will want to join the winning program.
“I am very happy to have been a part of these recent successes but can’t take all the credit. I have been lucky enough to have great athletes over the years and even better mentors all over the building to help me and the boys learn the game,” Perillo said. “The school is always going to be proud when their students work hard and get results, and I think both programs have done so in the last few years. However, the boys program would need another few years of winning to really match the girls program over the last years! I’m hoping this years successes help encourage more players to come out and play in years to come.”
Here is the championship roster:
Nate Cole (sr. #5); Logan Lewis (sr. #7); Jarrett Campbell (sr. #10); Allen Fuller (jr. #11); Haven Kellogg (jr #1); Maddox Keller (jr #9); Andrew Achey (fr. #6); Anderson Seigel (fr. #4).