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Anne Photograp News 2024

Ahmad Powell, Homewood-Flossmoor above Sandburg
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Ahmad Powell, Homewood-Flossmoor above Sandburg

In eighth grade, Ahmad Powell attended a pair of Homewood-Flossmoor boys volleyball games.

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

Those games turned a basketball player into a volleyball star.

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

He said he played basketball for a year at HF, but decided to play club volleyball and then focused solely on that sport.

Had he stuck with basketball, there’s a good chance he would 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, smiling.

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

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

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 victory over Sandburg in the SouthWest Suburban Conference.

Nate Epley contributed nine kills, including six in the third marathon match for HF (23-7, 2-3). Lane Sunley had 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, of which HF committed 17.

“That was an unusual game for us,” Powell said. “But we did what we had to do and got the job done. We could have gotten out of here faster, but you just have to keep playing.’

The Vikings were in a slump, going 2-4 in their previous six games. This road win could get them back on track.

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

“It’s absolutely necessary because we haven’t connected in the last few games.”

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

The 6-foot-2 Powell has shown a variety of skills this spring with his hitting, serving and defense.

“He’s a great athlete,” HF coach Mark Ciesielski said of Powell. ‘The boy has a vertical jump of 3 feet and he is the strongest boy you will ever meet.

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

Heyward knows that when he gives Powell the ball, good things will usually happen.

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

“He just plays it really well.”

Heyward said there are a number of colleges looking at him, but he’s not sure if he wants to advance to the next level.

“I’m playing like it’s our farewell tour,” Heyward said. “We want to take home every medal we can or every plaque we can and end the legacy at HF.”

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

Powell, who is playing for Ultimate in the offseason, said he hasn’t yet become interested in college, but Ciesielski hopes his talented outsider will end up at a school like Stanford or Harvard.

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

“The science really catches my attention,” he said. “I like physics. It gives meaning to everything. Physics is the science of the world. I love mathematics.

“And I also like gym. These are all fun topics.”

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.