Hartley Roundup: Hawks boys volleyball team making strides in return season
As the only player with extensive experience heading into this season, senior Matthew Franz wasn’t sure when the Hartley boys volleyball team would jell.
The Hawks’ play since late April confirms that things are moving in the right direction in the first season the school has fielded a team since the mid-1990s.
“I would say there’s definitely been a huge growth in us playing together as a team, and more specifically in each individual person’s growth,” Franz said. “Coming into the season, a lot of the people had raw talent, but they hadn’t been able to be coached into using that to the best of their ability.
“One of the things we struggled with at the beginning was being able to close our games that are close, or once we may have been down, being able to fight back from that position. With the last few games, we’ve been able to pull away from the start, or if we were struggling, we were able to put together a run of three or four points to switch it back.”
Hartley had won three of five matches and was 5-12 after beating Centennial 25-17, 21-25, 25-21, 25-21 on May 11.
Included in that stretch were wins over Huber Heights Wayne (25-17, 26-24 on April 25), Whetstone (25-10, 25-22, 25-19 on April 29) and Williamsport Westfall (25-14, 25-11, 25-16 on April 30).
The Hawks, whose other victory also came over Westfall (25-16, 25-16, 25-23 on March 31), are preparing for the Division II East Region tournament, which begins May 21.
“We’ve gotten to the point that we’re more competitive,” said coach Doug Franz, who is Matthew Franz’s uncle. “We’re competing with teams, even some of the bigger teams. Our first sets are right there, and it boils down to experience. We’re starting to put everything together. Our passing is coming together, and that’s a key to volleyball.”
Sophomore Luke Navarro has been at setter after previously gaining experience at the middle school level.
Hartley, which was planning to have a team last spring before the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, also features Camaran Griffith (middle hitter/outside hitter) and De’Andre Hodge (right-side hitter) in its senior class.
Junior Gabe Clark (outside hitter) and sophomores Colin Callahan (defensive specialist) and A.J. Lentz (middle hitter) have been other key players.
“Our middle, Camaran, is a senior and came in with no experience, but he’s swinging really well,” Matthew Franz said. “He’s swinging at a level you might see in a club program. There’s been a lot of development individually, but we’ve also transformed into a team and have been working as a team.”
Matthew Franz has committed to Wabash, a Division III program in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he’ll be attending on an academic scholarship.
His sister, Emily Franz, is a 2015 Hartley graduate and four-time state cross country qualifier who competed in track and field for the University of Notre Dame.
He’s enjoyed being coached by his uncle during his final prep season.
“I’ve been really able to develop as a player myself,” he said. “I feel like my role is to be able to guide the rest of the younger guys. It’s going to be harder to compete (in the tournament) because other teams have been around longer, but we’re changing the morale of the team for a specific stretch of games, which has been a big part of my role.
“It’s definitely been very interesting this year having someone related to you be your coach. (Doug Franz) has definitely pushed me a lot harder and it’s been a good influence. It’s been a rewarding experience to have him coach me and always have my back.”
captures CCL title
The baseball team bounced back from its first league loss, a 7-6 setback to Watterson on April 30, to beat St. Charles 5-4 on May 6.
Then on May 7, Hartley was leading Ready 6-0 through two innings when the game was halted because of bad weather.
The Hawks finished the game against Ready on May 11, winning 11-0 to wrap up the CCL title. They lost 8-5 to DeSales on May 12 to drop to 13-4 overall and finish 6-2 in the league.
Against St. Charles, junior third baseman Dimitri Boumis homered in the sixth to tie it at 3 and the Hawks took a 4-3 lead into the seventh before the Cardinals rallied to send the game to extra innings.
In the bottom of the eighth, junior catcher Lukas Graham drove in the winning run as he finished with three hits and two RBI.
Junior Emmett Gillies threw five innings against St. Charles and has been among the top pitchers for a staff that also includes sophomore Peyton Underwood and junior Jake Scurlock.
Hartley is the fifth seed for the Division II district tournament and opens May 20 at home against 11th-seeded Bexley or 13th-seeded Johnstown in a second-round game. The winner plays second-seeded Sparta Highland, 16th-seeded Caledonia River Valley or 22nd-seeded Columbus East in a district semifinal May 25 at the home field of the better seed.
Track teams battle
The boys and girls track and field teams will complete district competition May 22, with the boys in the Division II, district 2 meet at Westerville North and the girls in the Division I, district 3 meet at Hilliard Darby.
The top four in each Division I event advance to the regional May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North, and the top four in each Division II event advance to the regional May 27 and 29 at Lexington.
On May 10 and 12 in the CCL meet at DeSales, the boys finished third (94) of five teams behind Watterson (172) and St. Charles (137) and the girls were third (117) of four teams behind Watterson (214) and DeSales (119).
For the boys, junior Trey Saunders won the 100 meters (11.0 seconds), senior Reese Barker was first in the 110 hurdles (15.61) and the 400 relay of freshman Xavier Martin-Fuller, Saunders, senior Kason Sunderland and junior Richard Kenny also was first (44.16).
Senior Eayual Gebrtsadik (distance) and junior Daniel Tooson (shot put, discus) have been other top boys competitors.
For the girls, junior Makailah Walker and sophomore Alex Etienne have led the sprint corps, with senior Emily Moore as the top hurdler and seniors Pailyn Groene and Megan Luallen and sophomore Jackie Radous leading in middle distance.