DeSales Roundup: ‘Mirror images’ Agyapong, Momoh leading Stallions boys volleyball team

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Jude Agyapong (left) and Jamie Momoh are best friends and standout middle hitters for the DeSales boys volleyball team. They're also standout students who aspire to become cardiologists. Agyapong will be attending Johns Hopkins and Momoh is going to Harvard.

The similarities between Jude Agyapong and Jamie Momoh began well before they joined the DeSales boys volleyball team.

Originally basketball players who attended St. Matthias Middle School, the best friends decided to take up volleyball in high school to improve their vertical leap.

Both were on junior varsity and saw sparing varsity time as freshmen while they continued to learn the game. They moved up to varsity as sophomores, when Agyapong became a starting middle hitter and Momoh came off the bench.

Now starters who both stand 6-foot-1, they have GPAs above 4.2 and are in the mix to be valedictorian, after which they hope to lead the Stallions to their first Division II state tournament since 2016.

“Jude and I bring a certain type of leadership,” Momoh said. “Our setter, Cam Hoying, and our libero, Sam Marchio, bring knowledge of the game some of us don’t necessarily have because we haven’t played for as long. We mesh well together.”

Momoh had 51 kills and a team-leading 37 blocks and Agyapong had 26 blocks and 40 kills through 17 matches, and DeSales was 15-2 before playing Mount Vernon on May 7. The Stallions were ranked seventh in last week’s state coaches poll.

“They set a standard,” said coach Andy Feltz, who laughingly admitted he “didn’t think much” of either player as freshmen because of their lack of experience. “They have intuitive minds. They want to learn. You put all those things together and they have the chance to be super successful.

“They’re both mirror images pretty much.”

Agyapong credited longtime friend and current teammate John Nguyen for pushing him to try volleyball.

“(I had) no prior knowledge,” Agyapong said. “(Middle hitting) is all about timing. I couldn’t pass well so they put me there and just emphasized that I had to time when I’d leap. I had to watch the ball as it left the passer. That timing was an easy thing to pick up because in basketball, everything is about timing. I tweaked how I hit and from there, I really grew. …

“In basketball, one guy has the ball. In volleyball, if one person has the ball and the pass goes haywire, you still have to help instead of having one person dictate what they want to do.”

Agyapong and Momoh will go their separate ways in the fall, with Agyapong heading to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and Momoh attending Harvard, some 400 miles to the northeast in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Even then, they will be united in their career goal. Both plan to attend medical school to become cardiologists.

“Since freshman year, I feel like we’ve had lofty goals when it comes to the next phase of our lives,” Momoh said. “We both know that we’re both capable of doing those things, so we’ve just pushed each other every day to reach our goals until we get to that point.”

Boys tennis team

preps for postseason

A challenging schedule that has mostly included Division I opponents has boys tennis coach Tom Snyder confident in his team’s growth throughout the regular season as well as their chances for success in the Division II sectional tournament.

The Stallions were 3-9 overall before playing Worthington Kilbourne on May 5 and 2-1 in the CCL entering their final league match against St. Charles, which was postponed May 4 because of bad weather. DeSales went 3-1 against other Division II teams in the regular season.

“What we’re looking (is) just wins and some confidence going into the tournament,” Snyder said of a sectional May 13 and 15 at Columbus Academy. “We’ve been trying to find a consistent lineup, but it’s been about reacting to things that have been happening, such as not having guys because of exposure to COVID. Isaiah Rush has been running track and a couple guys have been out sick.”

At sectional, doubles teams will consist of Kevin Heil and Michael James and Brandon Heil and Preston Thai.

Brendan Ballard, Enoch Oye and Isaac Rush will play singles.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 20 and 22 at Academy.

Heil and James, who have played singles this season along with Rush, finished first at first doubles in the Teays Valley Invitational on May 1.

“We’ve been learning on the job with so much inexperience in the lineup,” Snyder said. “The biggest thing is the improvement from day one.”

Softball team

clinches CCL title

The softball team defeated host Hartley 11-1 on May 6 to clinch its first CCL championship since 2015, an achievement that twice had been delayed by postponements last week.

DeSales was 11-11 overall before playing Olentangy Liberty on May 7 and finished 5-1 in the league. The game against the Hawks had been postponed from May 3 to May 5 because of bad weather and then again moved back a day because of poor field conditions.

The Stallions clinched a share of the championship April 30 with a 5-3 win over Ready.

Watterson finished league play at 4-2, with both losses coming to DeSales.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave