Members of the Grandview Heights High School girls volleyball team are familiar with their new coach.
The Bobcats recently hired Bryan Bastuba to replace Ed Hine, who stepped down after one season. Last year, Bastuba coached the eighth-grade team and assisted Hine with high school practices.
"Last year when I was coaching the eighth-grade team, I had the opportunity to go over to the high school to help out with practices and attend most of the home matches," Bastuba said. "During that time, I was able to get to know all of the great players we have in the program, and it motivated me to pursue this position."
Bastuba also has coached at the club level, which was one reason athletics director Jim Hall selected him.
"Bryan coached at the middle school for us last year and has been a club coach with a very good program that has competed nationally for the last few years," Hall said. "He was a great fit for us because he is dedicated to volleyball and had already developed a rapport with the teams last year. He has a great knowledge of volleyball and passion for the sport."
Bastuba believes his experience coaching at the club level will help him in his first season as a varsity coach, but he expects to benefit even more from the rapport he built with the players in the program as an assistant.
"I have been lucky enough to coach for Mintonette Sports volleyball club for the past two years," he said. "I was the head coach of a national (U13) team my first year with the club, and this spring I was the head coach of a national (U12) team.
"It makes things a lot easier to come into a position like this when you already know most of the kids, and they also know you. I was able to establish a good rapport with the returning girls from last year, which helps to establish open and honest communication between me and the players."
Last season, Grandview finished 7-14 overall and went 5-9 in the MSL-Ohio Division to place sixth, behind champion West Jefferson (14-0).
Seeded 18th of 23 teams, the Bobcats lost to second-seeded Fairbanks 25-10, 25-12, 25-10 in the second round of the Division III district tournament.
"I think the biggest challenge I will face will be establishing a culture of hard work, dedication and accountability," Bastuba said. "I believe if we can establish the right culture, if we set high expectations for ourselves and make a commitment to meeting those expectations through hard work and accountability, then we have an opportunity to really turn some heads at the level of play we are capable of as a team."
Libby Jump, a setter and outside hitter entering her junior year, and senior libero Emma Bulla are expected to be the top returnees. Last season, Jump was named second-team all-league and Bulla was honorable mention all-league.
"The thing I look forward to most is being able to look back at the end of the season at not only the progress we have made as a program and as a team, but to see the growth and maturation of each player," Bastuba said. "Wins are nice, but at the end of the day, the progress and improvement we achieve is what I'll be most proud of as a coach."