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Hoban boys volleyball team looking to win regionals

4/11/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

AKRON — Archbishop Hoban High School boys volleyball head coach Matt Mihelic said his team has a clear objective in mind this season.

“Our goal is to win regionals this year. We have grown our region by five teams this year and have some more work to do to get to the finals and win it,” he stated. “Defense wins championships, so we are concentrating on getting better at that this year. Our net play has to be more aggressive, as well as our defensive reaction by our wings and middle back defender to the play in front of us.”

Last year, Hoban finished with an 18-9 overall record, but Mihelic said the season ended in disappointment.

“We lost in the regional finals for the first time in six years,” he said. “We gained a lot of experience last year and should be able to play through some tough adversity this year.”

Mihelic said this year’s team, which was out to a 4-2 start on the season through April 8, features a nice mix of experience.

“We’ve got a few ‘veterans,’ but we’ve also got some young talent that is going to be shaped to be the future of the team,” he said.

According to Mihelic, four players graduated following the 2012 season, but this year’s squad has four seniors who are ready to step up and lead the way.

“We have two seniors that have been with the program since freshman year and two other seniors that are newer,” he said. “The two seniors that have been with the program are our captains this year — Tony Burns and Will Lawrence. The two captains have been very good leaders and are helping to bring along some of the less experienced players.”

The other two seniors on this year’s team are Jacob Salaman, a second-year player, and James Monsour, a first-year player.

“Both are being trained as middle hitters because of their height and athleticism,” Mihelic said.

Two of the team’s key players this season are underclassmen.

“Our starting setter is sophomore Tommy Leslein. He’s running our team on offense and makes our decisions on the fly when deciding who the ball will go to,” the coach said. “Our other middle hitter, Joe Belair, is a sophomore and is doing a lot of good things offensively and defensively up at the net.”

In addition, the coach said, this year’s junior class “has some great potential.”

“They are the core of the team with the seniors and two sophomores,” he stated. “We have a few outstanding players in outside hitter Connor Evans, middle hitter Cort Hatch and defensive specialists Joe Gale and Kyle Huth.”

Gale is a player who people may be surprised by this season, Mihelic said.

“I know he’s surprised me,” the coach stated. “He’s been passing well on serve receive and playing well on defense, picking up a lot of attacks against us. He’s an emotional leader and gets us going with his celebrations when he scores a point.”

Mihelic is in his 10th season as Hoban’s boys volleyball coach. His assistant coaches are: Andy Veverka, varsity assistant; Chad Kelly, junior varsity (JV) coach; and Jeremy Leyden, JV assistant coach.

Next up for Hoban is a home game vs. St. Ignatius High School tomorrow, April 12, at 7 p.m.

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