Gazette Boys Volleyball Player of the Year: Michael Swanigan, Granby

Granby’s Michael Swanigan (10) attacks at the net against Southwick during the Western Mass. Class C semifinal earlier this season.

Granby’s Michael Swanigan (10) attacks at the net against Southwick during the Western Mass. Class C semifinal earlier this season. FILE PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

Granby’s Michael Swanigan (10) sets the ball against Athol during a match earlier this season.

Granby’s Michael Swanigan (10) sets the ball against Athol during a match earlier this season. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE


Staff Writer

Published: 07-04-2024 2:01 PM

GRANBY — During the Granby boys volleyball team’s run through the Western Mass. Class C tournament, it seemed to have one plan of attack when it needed a clutch point.

Any time the Rams’ backs were against the wall, they would feed their star senior, Michael Swanigan.

Such was the case in the Class C final against Ware, as Granby found itself in a hole late in the third set. Swanigan struck for several key kills in the frame as he helped the Rams climb from behind and steal the set 28-26 – giving Granby its first-ever Western Mass. championship.

Swanigan’s dominance all season – highlighted by his team-leading 16-kill, 7-dig performance in the biggest match of the season – earned him the Daily Hampshire Gazette Boys Volleyball Player of the Year award for this spring.

Throughout the offseason Swanigan dedicated most of his time to becoming a better defender. His strength, athleticism and consistent technique at the net assisted him when putting down thunderous kills since his sophomore year. But he needed to develop the other aspects of volleyball to take his game to the next level.

Swanigan played libero for the entirety of his club season prior to senior year, perfecting the art of defense and reading the ball off his opponents’ hits.

It’s safe to say that helped, because his versatility was on full display all season long. Swanigan not only led his team with 330 kills, he also dug up a team-high 151 balls while dishing out 145 assists (second on the team). His serve also improved, tallying 55 aces – good for third on the team.

“I spent a lot of time playing libero so I could work on defense and defending different hitters,” Swanigan said. “I didn’t do too much hitting, which is not normal for me because that’s all I did my junior year. So when this year came around I was a better all-around player.”

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When Swanigan started playing volleyball for Granby in seventh grade, he never imagined back then the success he and his team would have now. The Rams were only a junior varsity program that year, and during their first varsity season in 2022 (Swanigan’s sophomore campaign), they won six games.

The following year (last season) they followed that up with 13 wins, then 19 in 2024 and a Western Mass. title to go with it. After being one of the first players to ever play volleyball at Granby, Swanigan has witnessed the continuous upward trajectory of the program first-hand – and his stellar play has a lot to do with it.

“I was on the first-ever team at Granby, so going from that in seventh grade to winning a championship my senior year, it really meant a lot to show all the hard work the boys put in over the years to get us to that point,” Swanigan said. “Our team hasn’t always been great, but we grew every year... I know for a lot of people, they define success by accolades, so winning Western Mass. gave a lot of us that proof of our great season and record.”

While most people might define success by who raises the trophy at the end of the season, Swanigan’s characterization is different.

Even if Granby had lost to Ware in the title match a month ago, the Rams improved from the year before. That’s success, according to Swanigan.

“Success is defined by growth in my opinion,” Swanigan said. “It doesn’t matter how many games you win, it’s about the work you did to get there. People come from a world of different abilities, so when you put in that work to get to the same point like our team did, that’s pretty successful. And eventually the results will come with it.”

That’s exactly why it was essential for him to add other elements to his game – to show growth, to show a commitment to hard work and to be ready to play at the next level.

Next year, Swanigan is attending Curry College to study business administration and play NCAA Division III volleyball.

He achieved almost all of his high school goals: winning a Western Mass. championship, earning a Player of the Year award, being named a Western Mass. All-Star, and now, he’s checking off another goal as he heads to play in college.

“Dreams are never too far out of reach,” Swanigan said. “You just have to work for them. I’ve spent a ton of time to achieve this milestone in my volleyball journey and career.”