Noah Platfoot always carried high expectations for himself and the Hilliard Darby boys volleyball team throughout his time with the program.
Led by Platfoot, a three-year starter at setter and an Ohio State commit, the Panthers reached the Division I state tournament each of the past three seasons. They lost in the state final in both 2017 and 2018 and lost in a state semifinal last season.
Darby didn't have the opportunity to return to state in Platfoot's senior season, as spring sports were canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
"Personally, my ultimate goal was simply winning a state championship," Platfoot said. "Freshman year, we had the team to do it, but couldn't get it done. Sophomore year, we had the team to do it, but couldn't get it done. And last year, we couldn't get it done, either. It's cliche, but it felt like this year was different. From a team standpoint, I definitely felt like that was not only my goal, but a team goal."
Fortunately for Platfoot, he'll continue his playing career with the Buckeyes.
"I'm going to keep it simple in the fact that I just want to keep competing," he said. "It's a completely different level at the collegiate level, especially at the Division I level. You got guys, just athletes running in day in and day out, and I want to be able to compete from the get-go and just try to make everyone better around me."
Darby coach Evan Bell said Platfoot had an extraordinary impact on the program and "was destined for greatness the moment he walked in the gym" for the first time as a freshman.
"The evolution of Noah Platfoot, on and off the court, has been special," said Bell, who happens to be Platfoot's first cousin. "From a young, hungry freshman to a mature, highly talented senior, his four-year progression was as extraordinary as it gets.
"His relentless pursuit to improve and unbelievable competitiveness have helped mold the exact player every coach wants leading their program, not to mention his volleyball skill, leadership, confidence and an 11-foot, 4-inch touch."
Last season, Platfoot was named Player of the Year in the state, region and league as Darby finished 26-3 overall and 14-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to win its 19th consecutive league title. Ranked first in the state, the Panthers lost to second-ranked Cincinnati St. Xavier 25-14, 25-22, 25-12 in a state semifinal.
St. Xavier went on to beat fifth-ranked Cincinnati Moeller 19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 35-33 in the state final.
Platfoot was named first-team all-state and Player of the Year in the region and league as a sophomore and honorable mention all-region as a freshman.
"I've got a pretty unique relationship with (Bell) in the fact that he's my coach, my cousin and my teacher," Platfoot said. "He instilled some of the work ethic that I have today, and he's always pushing me constantly not to be a better athlete, but to be a better man and student."
Platfoot, who plans to major in business at Ohio State, will be spending his summer preparing to compete at the collegiate level. Once his career with the Buckeyes ends, he would like to play abroad.
"The ultimate goal is to try to go play in Europe for a little bit," Platfoot said. "Depending on my college career, I want to see if I can go play over there and change up my scenery a little bit and then get into the real world. If not, I just want to have a good degree from the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State."