There were numerous handshakes, a few laughs and enough moments of success to provide encouragement for the Reynoldsburg High School boys volleyball team March 29 at Upper Arlington.
It was the inaugural match for the Raiders, who lost to the Golden Bears 25-11, 25-6, 25-15.Video •Watch action from the first boys volleyball match in Reynoldsburg's history.
The most important thing to the 12 players in the program, though, was that progress had been made by the end of the match.
"We had a good time," junior outside hitter Tanner Wooddell said. "It's fun. It's a lot to remember, but we're definitely learning. During the second game we got a little frustrated, but once we got back (to the right mindset) we did better."
Wooddell, who plays football and also competes for the swimming and diving team, is one of two captains along with the program's only senior, setter Ricky Kelley.
The other juniors in the program are Gabe Donaldson (middle hitter), Aidan Hauter (outside hitter), Ethan Miller (middle hitter), Alec'Zaire Myers (opposite hitter/setter) and TaJah Reynolds (middle hitter).
Also in the program are sophomores Justin Barnhart (defensive specialist/outside hitter) and Tyrell Rudolph (defensive specialist) and freshmen Caleb Aimiuwu (outside hitter), Zach Frye (setter) and Davion Robinson (outside hitter/defensive specialist).
Matt Bailey, who previously served as an assistant boys coach for more than a decade in the Pickerington school district, is leading the program.
"It's been going pretty well," Bailey said. "The boys are eager to learn and have come in with a positive attitude. We have a couple kids that have played recreational volleyball before. We took a few of them to an (Ohio State) match and that was a huge eye-opener. I'm telling them right now not to get discouraged, and they're right now taking small strides. We're hoping they can do well by the end of the season."
Reynoldsburg, which is not competing in the OCC this season, is among four new programs in central Ohio along with Briggs, Columbus International and Eastmoor Academy from the City League.
The Raiders play host to Eastmoor on April 20 and close the regular season May 18 at home against Briggs.
Reynoldsburg lost to Northland 25-18, 25-7, 25-10 on March 30 and Miamisburg 25-9, 25-12, Liberty Township Lakota East 25-7, 25-12 and Chillicothe 25-13, 25-18 on April 1.
"What's good is that a lot of these guys can jump out of the gym," Bailey said. "They haven't really played much before, but they're athletic."
Bailey stepped down as girls volleyball coach March 30 after two seasons in which the Raiders went a combined 15-32.
"It was time for me to step away," he said. "I want to focus on growing the boys program."
Tennis team hopes
to take steps forward
With no seniors and few with previous experience a season ago, the boys tennis team went just 2-14 overall and didn't win an OCC-Ohio Division match.
The positive side of the growing pains is that the Raiders have returned every key player and now have four seniors including Malcolm Kirksey, who won his first match at first singles late last season.
"We were very young last year," coach Les Somogyi said. "I worked with these guys all winter indoors."
Somogyi, who is in his third season and also has coached the girls program for 13 years, received the Ed Wolffe/Rich Hagen Service Award by the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association in early March.
His team opened April 5 at Hamilton Township.
Both the Wildcats and Groveport have moved to the OCC-Capital. Last season, Reynoldsburg went 0-7 in the OCC-Ohio as Gahanna (7-0) finished first.
Sophomore Boban Mihajlov is back at second singles and sophomore Preston Harmon returns after playing third singles much of last season.
The other seniors are Bryce Chambliss and Trevor Templin, each of whom saw extensive action in doubles last season, and Jaxon Matan.
In a Division I sectional last season at home, Templin won his play-in match before losing in the first round in singles.
Sophomores Chase Cotner and Mick Garlinger also were regulars a year ago.
Others looking to contribute include sophomores Sean Burns, Gunnar Green, Jonathan Leatherwood, Austin Novak and Mason Wightman.
Reynoldsburg opens the OTCA Division I team tournament against Olentangy Orange on a date to be determined.
The match must be played before Monday, April 10, according to the OTCA's website.
The Reynoldsburg-Orange winner faces Upper Arlington in a match that must be played before April 20.
"My hope is that we're going to be much stronger than last year," Somogyi said. "My schedule is much easier than it was last year."
April 5 -- at Hamilton Township
*April 6 -- at Gahanna
April 7 -- vs. Canal Winchester
April 8 -- Watkins Memorial Doubles Tournament
*April 11 -- at Grove City
April 12 -- vs. Granville
*April 13 -- vs. Pickerington Central
April 17 -- at Whitehall
April 18 -- vs. Watkins Memorial
April 19 -- vs. Fisher Catholic
*April 20 -- vs. Lancaster
*April 21 -- at Pickerington North
April 22 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament
April 24 -- vs. Hamilton Township
April 25 -- vs. Village Academy
April 26 -- vs. Marion-Franklin
April 27 -- vs. Big Walnut
May 2 -- vs. Westerville Central
May 4 -- at Village Academy
May 5 -- at Hartley
May 9 -- vs. Teays Valley
May 10 -- vs. Bloom-Carroll
March 29 -- at Upper Arlington
March 30 -- at Northland
April 1 -- at Chillicothe with Miamisburg and Liberty Township Lakota East
April 4 -- at Whetstone
April 7 -- at Olentangy Liberty
April 12 -- at Watterson
April 18 -- at Licking Heights
April 20 -- vs. Eastmoor Academy
April 24 -- vs. Northland
April 27 -- vs. Licking Heights
May 8 -- vs. St. Charles
May 10 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
May 18 -- vs. Briggs
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg baseball, softball and track & field teams:
*April 7 -- Home vs. Grove City
*April 10 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
*April 12 -- At Pickerington Central
April 6 -- Home vs. Westerville South
April 8 -- Home vs. Northridge (DH)
April 10 -- Home vs. Mount Vernon
April 11 -- Home vs. Licking Valley
*April 12 -- Home vs. Gahanna
TRACK & FIELD
April 8 -- Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North
April 11 -- At Westerville Central with New Albany