Whetstone Roundup: Braves boys volleyball team faces 'big learning curve'

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Whetstone boys volleyball coach Errole Rembert instructs his team during a match in 2019. Rembert is in his 21st season leading the Braves, who returned only one player with varsity experience after last season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The Whetstone boys volleyball team has a lot of ground to cover this season as it seeks to be competitive. 

Coach Errole Rembert returned for his 21st season this spring after taking last fall off as coach of the girls team because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. He said he’s planning to return to the girls team this fall as an assistant to coach Chelsea Ray. 

Rembert said his biggest challenge with the boys team is bringing the players up to speed. Junior Finn Lada is the only varsity returnee on the 11-player roster after last season was canceled because of the pandemic.

“It’s going to be a big learning curve,” Rembert said. “They’re trying, but there’s so much they don’t know. And it’s going to take some time to get there.” 

Lada is an outside hitter who is starting right front. He’ll be joined by sophomore middle hitter Louie Kime and freshman setter and outside hitter Neil Gordon. 

The other starters include junior setter and outside hitter Bryan Phandone at left, junior middle hitter Duke Daniel and sophomore setter Max Rogers on the right. 

The Braves’ inexperience has shown early this season, as they were 0-8 heading into a match April 9 at Westerville South.  

Rembert said it’s going to take time for the players to acclimate themselves to the speed of the varsity game. In particular, he said the Braves need to continue learning the basics of the positions as well as fine-tuning serving, serve reception and transitions from offense to defense.

“We have a lot of areas to work on,” Rembert said. “It’s taking a little time. But like I told them, we’re not going to rush anything. I’d rather go really slow and slowly get to wherever we get.

“But they’re having fun, they’re learning and they keep coming back every day.” 

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

•Coach: Errole Rembert, 21st season

•Next match: April 17 at Worthington Kilbourne 

•Key athletes: Duke Daniel, Neil Gordon, Finn Lada and Max Rogers

Boys tennis team

expects improvement 

Boys tennis coach Bucky Walters said he was excited heading into last season with eight seniors on the team. 

None of those seniors got to play because of the pandemic, and the Braves are starting fresh this year after graduating six of seven starters. 

That’s why Walters, who is in his 17th season, said most of the starting singles and doubles spots will be up for grabs over the next few weeks. 

“We’re trying to figure out who else is doing what because no one has any experience,” he said. “We’re so young and inexperienced. We’re going into it trying to play a lot of people, a lot of matches and get us some experience we can work on and build on. Not just this year, but also the next couple of years.”

One of last year’s starters, junior Beaux Baldwin, returned and will start at first singles. 

While anyone on Whetstone’s 14-player roster could carve out a role at second and third singles and first and second doubles, Walters said there are frontrunners. Candidates include junior Reggie Michel, sophomores Owen Hostetler and Thomas Gott and freshman Max Johnson. 

Walters said a young roster isn’t going to deter the Braves, who opened April 9 against Whitehall. 

“We don’t shy away from the competition,” he said. “We may take some lumps early with some teams, but we’ll get better.” 

BOYS TENNIS 

•Coach: Bucky Walters, 17th season 

•Next match: April 16 vs. Watterson 

•Key athletes: Beaux Baldwin, Thomas Gott, Owen Hostetler and Max Johnson

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve