Once it became clear that things were going to be different this spring, Tommy Poole came up with a plan.

Getting complacent wasn't an option for the Dublin Jerome senior boys volleyball player, who has a future at the collegiate level.

Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the OHSAA canceled the spring sports season and school gymnasiums have not been available since mid-March and sand volleyball courts also have not been open. That led Poole to creating a mini-practice area at his house.

"You usually set up a piece of wood that's angled a certain angle and hit (the ball) against there to get some reps for all the major positions," said Poole, an Ohio State recruit. "You want to try to get as many touches as possible. The coaches know it's extremely hard to get touches. Just having a positive mindset and getting a routine down gets me well-adjusted to everything. Having a workout routine with proper eating habits and having good mental health throughout this situation is helpful."

Poole helped Jerome reach a Division I regional final each of the past three seasons, including last spring when the Celtics went 17-9 overall and finished runner-up in the OCC-Cardinal Division at 11-3, behind Hilliard Darby (14-0).

Coach Phil Cagnoli had high hopes for this season with the return of Poole and seven other players.

Poole, a libero who was named honorable mention all-state last season, didn't begin competing in volleyball until he was in the eighth grade. He was encouraged by Cagnoli to try out the sport.

Four years later, Poole, who is listed as being 5-foot-9 by Ohio State but admits he might be an inch or two shorter, has committed to play for the Buckeyes.

"Tommy has attacked the sport since day one," Cagnoli said. "I'd begin with him being internally motivated and determined. He simply loves to play the game. Once he set his sights on playing at the next level, that drive also made him into a great student. He's very competitive. Obviously, he's very technically skilled. He works hard and has been consistently underrated as an athlete due to his size. He's very athletic with a quick twitch, his hand-eye coordination and speed. Can't wait to see him play for Ohio State."

Joining Poole in Ohio State's five-member 2020 recruiting class is Hilliard Darby senior Noah Platfoot, a setter who was named state Player of the Year last spring.

Poole and Platfoot have been teammates with Vanguard, which has been central Ohio's premier club boys program in recent years.

Ohio State was 11-8 with nine regular-season matches remaining before its season was canceled because of the coronavirus.

Poole originally committed to Purdue-Fort Wayne but later switched his commitment to the Buckeyes, who won NCAA titles in 2011, '16 and '17 and were a national semifinalist in 2018.

Ohio State has a first-year coach in Kevin Burch, who served as an assistant for four seasons before taking over for Pete Hanson, who retired after 35 seasons.

"(Volleyball is) just a sport that's so special," Poole said. "It's just a high-level pace and once you get to the higher levels, your fun won't decrease. (Jerome) always (goes) to regional finals every year and this year could have been special. State was in our mindset. With my high school team, we do Zoom calls, and I talk to the incoming and current Ohio State players as often as I can, just talking about stuff and how we can prepare for next season."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek