Changes don’t bother optimist Westerville North
Ian Ford didn’t necessarily anticipate a change in position for his junior season with the Westerville North men’s volleyball team, but when circumstances forced him to switch from outside hitter to setter, Ford made his better to adapt.
As his acclimatization continues, Ford has confidence in himself and his teammates to the point that he believes the Warriors can surpass last year’s records of 15-9 overall and 7-5 in the OCC Division. Central.
“Before the season, I learned skills. I’m just starting to do it in a regular game setting. I’m just practicing everything I know,” said Ford, who replaces classmate Jayden Henderson at the setter. “The feet are essential. You should always get under the ball and get there as fast as possible. Just be able to be as mobile as possible. That’s what I focus on.
Ford, who had 127 kills, 34 blocks, 33 aces and 110 digs a year ago, and classmate Corey Howlett are the two leading returnees for North, who was 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the league before playing Olentangy Orange on April 7.
Howlett is a starting outside hitter, although he also sees time in the back row for defensive purposes, having split his time between defensive specialist and right hitter last year.
“We are a young team. We have a lot of new players,” said first-year coach Mark Posey, who took over from Eva Opitz. “I still have an idea of where we are. There is a lot of potential here, but we also have a lot of work to do.
“There is definitely a core around which to build. Some of them are forced to play new positions. We’ve had injuries and ineligibility so you guys have to move. Part of it is just feeling the guys, seeing where we think we can use the guys in different places, trying it out and seeing where it leads.
Senior Anthony Pyles (defensive specialist) and juniors Simon Falayi (right side hitter/center hitter), Jaedyn Harris (center hitter/outside hitter) and Samir Harris (defensive specialist) also feature prominently.
Howlett hopes his versatility will help the team progress, given he can play at least four positions.
“I will do whatever the coach wants from me. I’m better at some things than others, of course, but I consider myself pretty versatile,” Howlett said. “It’s something I’m proud of because if (Posey) needs me somewhere, I’ll go there. It’s a good thing I was able to do for a while.
“The sky is the limit right now. We are improving every day. We can easily do better than last year. This is the bar we need to set for ourselves and then push past it as best we can.
Posey said the progress was promising, although inexperience shows it.
“Basically we need to pass better and that’s part of being a younger team and having guys who haven’t played in a competitive game,” Posey said. “Some of these guys are getting substantial playing time. There’s athleticism out there, there’s raw talent out there and those skills need to be honed. It will take work. That will take time.
•Coach: Jimi Yu, 13th season
• Best Players: Daniel Latham, Nick Pieroni, Andrew Plas and Aiden Tamulonis
• Key losses: Dylan Bertelsen and Brett Zepfel
•Last season: 7-10 overall
• OCC-Ohio 2021 ranking: Gahanna (14-0), New Albany (12-2), Pickerington Central (10-4), Pickerington North (7-7), Westerville Central (7-7), Reynoldsburg (3-11), Delaware (3- 11), South Westerville (0-14)
• Post-season 2021: Lost to Dublin Jerome 25-14, 25-9, 25-21 in the second round of the Division I East Region tournament
•Outlook: Central coach Jimi Yu hopes his side can improve on their 7-10 record from a year ago.
Leading the returning players is junior outside hitter Daniel Latham, who was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-region. Other key players include juniors Nick Pieroni (middle hitter), Andrew Plas (setter) and Aiden Tamulonis (middle hitter).
The major losses at graduation were outside hitter Dylan Bertelsen (second team all-league, honorable mention all-region) and setter Brett Zepfel (honorable mention all-league).
• Quoteable: “Our goal this season is to play fearless and be the best central team yet.” —Yu
•Coach: Andy Feltz, 13th season
• Best Players: Michael Cavanaugh, Cameron Hoying, Sam Marchio, Zane Patterson and Camren White
• Key losses: Jude Agyapong, Noah Garrick and Jamie Momoh
•Last season: 19-5 overall
• CCL 2021 ranking: DeSales (5-1), St. Charles (5-1), Watterson (2-4), Hartley (0-6)
• Post-season 2021: Def. Hartley 25-14, 25-20, 25-17; lost to Olentangy 21-25, 25-19, 25-15, 25-16 in the Eastern Region Division II semi-final
•Outlook: Seniors Michael Cavanaugh (outside hitter, 235 kills in 2021) and Sam Marchio (libero, 453 digs) and junior Cameron Hoying (passer, 150 digs, 52 aces) are among the returnees as the Stallions seek their second consecutive championship of the CCL, seventh in the league’s nine seasons and the first since 2015.
Junior outside hitter Camren White added 98 kills and 50 aces a year ago.
New starters include juniors Luke Gabrielli (right side hitter), Michael Hunsaker (outside hitter) and Zane Patterson (middle hitter) and rookie Casey Althouse (right side hitter).
The skills he saw in multiple areas, including a diverse offense, made coach Andy Feltz optimistic DeSales could reach statehood for the first time since 2016.
• Quoteable: “We are off to a good start and we think (declaring) is a realistic goal. We work a lot on our reception service. I think we struggled with that at times last season, especially in the tournament, but we’ve already shown a lot of improvement. —Hoying
•Coach: Mark Posey, first season
• Best Players: Simon Falayi, Ian Ford, Jaedyn Harris, Corey Howlett and Anthony Pyles
• Key losses: Collin Cook, Logan Dowling, Nathan Gillenwater and Jayden Henderson
•Last season: 15-9 overall
• OCC-Central 2021 ranking: Olentangy Orange (10-2), Hilliard Bradley (9-3), Olentangy Liberty (9-3), Westerville North (7-5), Dublin Coffman (5-7), Hilliard Davidson (2-10), Upper Arlington (0-12)
• Post-season 2021: Def. North Pickerington 25-13, 25-18, 25-11; lost to Liberty 25-13, 25-16, 25-21 in Division I East Region semi-final
•Coach: Chris Bielby, second season
• Best Players: Nathan Bielby and Quentin Sheets
• Key losses: Ian Chuah, Owen Curran and Charles Williams
•Last season: 2-20 total
• Post-season 2021: Lost to Mount Vernon 25-12, 25-16, 25-21 in the first round of the Division I East Region tournament
•Outlook: The Wildcats are bringing back just two players with plenty of experience after going 2-20 overall and 0-14 in OCC-Ohio.
A key returning player is junior Nathan Bielby, who was honored in all leagues last season. Son of coach Chris Bielby, he will see action as outside hitter, center hitter and passer.
Junior Quentin Sheets (outside striker) is also back, and Ellis Dzokoto (defensive specialist) is the only senior.
Coach Bielby said the remaining players are mostly new to the sport.
South’s first schedule included a 16-25, 25-22, 25-19, 31-29 win over Pickerington North on April 5.
• Quoteable: “I’ve got a great group of guys. I don’t know how we’re going to do it, but they’re making great strides. We’ve only got two returnees, so they’re the education engine for these guys, in more coaches. They’re doing a good job. The guys pick it up. —coach Bielby