Brandon Kors breaks down the top boys’ volleyball teams for The Cincinnati Enquirer
After losing 10 seniors from last year’s squad, coach Sean Tierney is aware of the obstacles ahead in replacing an experienced team with one that has limited varsity experience.
The Panthers return five seniors, including outside hitter Anthony Stacklin; R.J. Albers, a middle hitter who is transitioning to right side hitter; and setter Joe Sansone.
Tierney said the team is working to solidify a backcourt and expects senior Henry Voellmecke and juniors Tim Kramer, Sean Conway and Michael Griswold to fill the void.
After advancing to the semifinals of the state tournament last season, the Firebirds set a precedent for the program.
Four new seniors join the program. Coach Christy Switzer said the returning team members have done a good job reiterating West’s tradition.
Lakota West will return a trio of seniors in setter Curtis Johnson, outside hitter Gurman Sekhon and libero Eric Singh.
This season East will deploy a new offensive scheme, which will include more plays that will incorporate the back row into the offense. This offensive change will make the Thunderhawks achieve a more spread-out attack and will attempt to ease the attention shown to senior middle blocker Kalen White.
Lakota East graduated its starting setter last season. Sophomore Bryant Kuhlman and freshman Brad Meyer will both be setting for the Thunderhawks.
Coach Matt McLaughlin’s record speaks for itself. As a player at Moeller he won two state titles with the Crusaders and is coming off his first state title as a coach last season.
“It’s a new season and it’s time to reiterate that to them,” McLaughlin said. “Certainly we had a great 2012 that ended on a high note for us, but going back to back is tough. We know nothing is guaranteed.”
The Crusaders return four senior starters from last year’s squad in libero Jared Engelhart, right side hitter Zach Priest, outside hitter Tony Pisciotta and middle hitter Casey Pieper.
It has been two seasons since the Highlanders won the GMC title, which they shared with Lakota West in 2011. With five returning starters this season, coach Chris Morman said the team has a very good chance to recapture the title as well as make a trip to the regional finals.
Along with the five returning starters, senior outside hitter Darien McDowell, who missed last year because of an injury, will return.
“We lost almost every starter from last year,” coach Bill Ferris said. “With that being said, I think the guys have done a good job stepping up quickly.”
Seniors Devon Hoesl, libero Michael Spohr and setter Ryan Judd, who saw limited action last season, will return for the Bombers.
May 3: Moeller at St. Xavier
April 5: Elder at St. Xavier
April 9: Mason at Oak Hills
April 11: Moeller at Elder
April 13: Carmel (Ind.) at Moeller
April 16: Lakota West at Oak Hills
April 24: Elder at Oak Hills
April 25: Lakota East at Lakota West
April 30: Mason at Lakota West
May 18: Regional Tournament final at Elder for South Region
May 18: Regional Tournament final at Centerville for West Region
May 25, 26: State championships at Walsh Jesuit High School