By David Willis
---- — An amazing 112 wins, six state championships and 0 career losses.
That is the eye-popping record of the new Andover High boys volleyball coach while he was leading the powerhouse Salem (N.H.) boys team.
He also happens to be a name that is very, very familiar to Andover sports fans.
Current Golden Warriors head football coach and Andover sports legend E.J. Perry will kick off his first year as the school’s boys volleyball coach when the Warriors open their season on Monday by hosting Lincoln-Sudbury.
He takes over for Dave Kuykendall, the coach of the last three seasons, who had to step down due to work obligations.
“I love being back in volleyball,” said Perry. “I think it’s one of the most athletic sports there is, and I never lost that volleyball fire when I left to come back to Andover.”
Perry never lost a volleyball game as coach of Salem, with a 112-0 record, claiming the state’s first six state titles. He was also the Blue Devils’ boys basketball coach at the time, winning two Class L state titles.
“The athletic director at the time (Jim Davis) thought basketball and volleyball were a good combination,” Perry said. “I talked to a lot of people. I went to a lot of clinics and watched videos to learn the sport. I had a lot of great people around me like Dan Young, who is the coach at Saint Anselm now.
“A lot of good players wanted to play basketball and volleyball, and once we got it rolling there was no stopping Salem. I want to continue that success at Andover”
Perry left Salem following the 2009 season to follow his dream and take over as football coach at Andover High. That, of course, has worked out extremely well with a pair of Merrimack Valley Conference titles and playoff trips in three seasons.
But a bit of the volleyball itch remained in Perry.
“(Andover athletic director) Don (Doucette) came to me and asked if I wanted to apply for the (volleyball) job,” said Perry. “I had never lost a volleyball game at Salem, so I decided to apply and it all went from there.”
Perry is also familiar with the MVC volleyball scene. He spent four years as head coach at Methuen (2005-08). He also has a valuable resource in longtime Golden Warriors girl sand boys coach George Sullivan.
“George was a teacher and coach (in football) of mine,” said Perry. “And he’s the grandfather of Andover volleyball. He’s been very helpful. I’ve talked to him and he came to a practice and our play date.
“Volleyball is a game about running, jumping, hitting and teamwork. When you have good athletes playing it, it’s a very fun game. We want to build this program and have fun doing it.”