City League Roundup: Strong chemistry keys Northland Vikings boys volleyball team

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Piang Khup is one of five Northland boys volleyball players from Myanmar, leading to strong team chemistry. The Vikings were 9-3 overall and 4-0 in the City League after defeating Whetstone 25-13, 25-14, 25-17 on April 27.

Building team chemistry has come almost effortlessly for the Northland boys volleyball team this spring. 

Of the seven players in the program, five moved to Columbus from Myanmar in Southeast Asia when they were in elementary school.

Senior Mang Sian (setter) and juniors Kam Kap (setter), Khai Khup (defensive specialist), Piang Khup (defensive specialist) and Suam Tung (outside hitter) all have gotten to know one another over the past few years.

“We talk a lot and we have this chemistry,” Sian said. “We know each other and we play outside of school. We practice a lot. We met (in Columbus) and it’s not hard to communicate when you speak the same language.” 

The Vikings were 9-3 overall and 4-0 in the City League after defeating Whetstone 25-13, 25-14, 25-17 on April 27. 

On April 26, Northland beat Centennial 25-17, 18-25, 25-18, 25-14 to earn a season sweep of the Stars. 

The only other City schools to have teams this spring are Beechcroft and Briggs. 

Northland defeated Briggs 25-17, 21-25, 22-25, 26-24, 15-8 on April 1 and faces the Bruins again May 6. 

There is expected to be a four-team City tournament in mid-May. Briggs won the City title in 2019. 

“It’s really fun,” Kap said. “We’re winning some of our matches and our teamwork is improving, so that’s good. We’ve played volleyball together since 2015. Hopefully we’ll be able to win the City.” 

The other players in the program are senior outside hitter Caleb Stallings and sophomore defensive specialist Juan Hernandez. 

“The basic thing is that they love to play,” coach Cheri Bowman said. “They take instruction very, very well and they know how to help each other with instruction on the floor. They know exactly what they’re doing and they’re able to take constructive criticism, not only from me but from their teammates. 

“We’re not taking advantage of our second hit and we’re pushing the ball over the net a lot and giving other teams a chance to set up. Sometimes we’re a little too aggressive. That’s what actually cost us the second game (against Centennial).” 

The Stars dropped to 2-7 overall and 1-3 in the City with the April 26 loss to Northland. 

Centennial beat Whetstone 28-26, 25-21, 25-2, 25-15 on April 7 and Williamsport Westfall 25-17, 27-25, 25-18 on April 22. 

Senior Deshaunte Battle (outside hitter/right-side hitter) and juniors Ignacio Mariscal (middle hitter/outside hitter) and Jay Ramirez (middle hitter/outside hitter) have been the team’s top offensive players, according to coach Brittani Lewis. 

Centennial has used both senior Fashan Kaan and sophomore Daniel Najad Abdurahman at setter. 

“(We’re improving in our) blocking, reading the block, waiting,” Lewis said. “Our passing has gotten a lot better in our target range. Our setting has gotten a lot better. Jay in the middle, Ignacio in the middle and Deshaunte on the outside have been getting the majority of our kills.” 

Jalen Leavell is the most experienced player on the Beechcroft baseball team, and that led him to playing catcher. “This year has been a challenge because we lack the experience,” he said.

Cougars baseball 

team growing 

Jalen Leavell considers center field and first base to be his best defensive positions, but he didn’t flinch when he was asked to be the Beechcroft baseball team’s catcher this spring. 

“This year has been a challenge because we lack the experience,” Leavell said. “Coach (Brian Knisley) has me playing catcher this year because there really is no one else that can play the position.” 

Leavell, a Columbus Alternative student who has been playing baseball since he was 4, is the only member of the 12-player program that has extensive experience playing at the travel level. 

The Cougars were 4-5 overall and 4-3 in the City-North Division after beating Linden-McKinley 26-12 in five innings April 26. 

In that contest, Beechcroft took advantage of 14 errors by the Panthers as junior pitcher Maxwell Richardson struck out eight over three innings. 

The Cougars also beat Mifflin (13-3 on April 14), East (17-1 on April 19) and Linden (11-1 on April 20) before completing the season sweep of the Panthers. 

They lost to Centennial 26-3 on April 16 and were swept by Whetstone 28-1 on March 29 and 27-1 on April 23. 

Senior Daniel Hernandez, who bats leadoff and plays in the outfield and shortstop – he also plays for the boys volleyball team – is another player who has stepped up, according to Knisley. 

“Jalen Leavell is hitting really well right now,” Knisley said. “He leads the team in pretty much all the offensive categories. Centennial is tough. They have kids that have been playing since they were little and most of our kids are either first- or second-year guys. We have a couple seniors who this is their first year playing the sport. 

“Maxwell Richardson has been (pitching) really well. He (had) 30 strikeouts (in his first 14 innings).” 

Stars baseball team 

preps for tourney 

Seniors C.J. Dean (P/CF) and Nate Dorinsky (P/LF) have led the Centennial baseball team. 

After beating East 28-3 on April 26, the Stars were 5-2 overall and 5-1 in the City-North, with their league loss coming 12-0 to Whetstone on April 19. 

Against East, Dorinsky had three hits and six RBI, senior first baseman Jacob Barnes had two hits and five RBI and senior catcher Noah Hatem had three hits and four RBI. 

Dean had four hits and six RBI in the 26-3 win over Beechcroft on April 16. 

Sophomore Stewart Leach and freshman Will Putnam also have been among the team’s top pitchers. 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek