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Volleyball was once something Madison East's Isaac Seip did 'on the side.' That was before he fell in love with the sport

Volleyball was once something Madison East's Isaac Seip did 'on the side.' That was before he fell in love with the sport

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Madison East senior Isaac Seip once pondered playing baseball in college.

But his options have expanded in recent seasons since joining the Purgolders boys volleyball team.

“Volleyball was a thing I would do on the side but as I started playing more, and getting better along with the team, I thought I could play somewhere in college,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated his junior season in 2020, but the lack of prep competition didn’t diminish Seip’s desire to improve.

Seip, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter/middle blocker, was introduced to volleyball when he chose the sport as elective in eighth grade at Madison Country Day School.

The three-sport athlete continued with fall volleyball as a freshman to prepare for winter and spring sports at East. Seip moved to varsity after one match on the JV team.

“I really started loving volleyball,” he said.

Matt Filteau, who’s been the Purgolders head coach for six seasons, said Seip is one of the best players that he’s seen come through the program.

Seip improved his sophomore year with digs and ability to read opponents’ hitters. Seip’s versatility to be inserted anywhere on the court sets him apart from others, according to Filteau. And his defense improved each season.

“If things go haywire, I know Isaac could set,” Filteau said. “Would he be an all-world setter? No. I could put him at middle, outside or right side to play and he could do it. Those are the things you notice right away. That’s what separates the really great players.”

Filteau knows good players. Former Purgolders setter Sam Heiman earned Big Eight Conference player of the year honors in 2018. Seip was a freshman on varsity during Heiman’s award-winning senior season.

Heiman, a transfer from Madison School of Engineering and Madison College, will compete with the Edgewood College men’s volleyball team this season.

Filteau said that Heiman, upon his departure from East, made a point of praising Seip’s talent and potential. The veteran’s leadership left an indelible mark.

“It was such a great environment,” Seip said. “When I was a freshman, all the seniors were helping me out and teaching me what to do. Now I am the senior helping people.”

Even though the pandemic erased his junior season, Seip kept his volleyball skills fresh by playing beach volleyball and working out at KEVA Sports Center with teammate Leo Stattleman-Scanlan, an East setter.

Seip credited Filteau for being a persistent motivator throughout his prep career. And making an impact his final season was a big goal.

“Missing a season made me a little angry,” Seiip said. “I knew if we were going to have a senior season, coming into it, I would have to make up for junior year and put it all out there.”

Seip had 161 kills and 72 digs in 2021. He finished with 445 kills and 204 digs during his three-year career at East.

Meanwhile, Filteau said the number of players who have joined the boys volleyball program has increased during his tenure. He’s seen overall improvement, and another objective he’d like is to see East included in the upper half of the Big Eight standings.

There’s still work to be done as the Purgolders finished with a 1-23 overall record, and 1-6 in the Big Eight.

“My theory is: If you elevate the program, the wins will come,” Filteau said. “This year, if you look at our won-loss record, we’re not there. We’ve had close matches and have come on the wrong side of things.”

Seip, who will graduate in the spring, likes the direction that the program is headed.

“We are a lot better compared to when we first started practice,” he said. “Being competitive in games even if we don’t come out with a win. If we play hard throughout the entire match, it’s a good thing.”


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