Boys Volleyball: Work ethic, energetic play spark Thomas Worthington Cardinals

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
The play of setter Joe Kolwicz has helped propel Thomas this season. He had 302 assists, 101 digs, 47 kills and 22 blocks during the Cardinals' 11-4 start.

The Thomas Worthington boys volleyball team could be in the process of putting together something special. 

Entering a match against Worthington Kilbourne on April 26, the Cardinals were 11-4 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.

Coach Brian Lawless said the experience gained from offseason practice and play, including players competing in club volleyball, has made a difference this spring.

“I think (our success is due to) just playing year-round, and the extra reps and knowing the game. The guys that we have in our starting lineup are really solid, and I think everyone else just kind of feeds off their energy,” Lawless said. “We definitely have more experience, but we also have experience in really key positions too that have helped us limit mistakes and play some tough volleyball so far.” 

He said the efforts of setter Joe Kolwicz, outside hitter Nathan Molloy and middle blocker Bo O’Leary have been particularly impactful. 

Through 15 matches, Kolwicz had 302 assists, 101 digs, 47 kills and 22 blocks. 

“If you want to have a really good team, your setter has to be a really quality player and know the offense and know how to distribute the ball and make good decisions,” Lawless said. “I always call the setter the quarterback on the floor because everything runs through them, and Joe Kolwicz, he’s a guy I think is a collegiate-level setter eventually.”

Kolwicz said the strength of the Cardinals lies in their work ethic and their energy. 

“(We have) the willingness to outwork the competition, whether that be extra practices or analyze film,” he said. “(Also), energy is everything in volleyball and is a main contributor to bouncing back from a lost point, set or even a tough loss.” 

Molloy, who had 104 digs, 87 kills, 29 aces and 21 assists, also has become a go-to player. 

“When we need a point, we can rely on him to make a play,” Lawless said.  

“What sets us apart from past teams is we have lots of guys with high-level club experience,” Molloy said. “My first year in the program we had one guy who played club, this year we have 11 on multiple national teams. We also have significantly higher expectations and believe that we can achieve them.” 

O’Leary had 87 kills, 55 blocks and 26 aces through 15 matches.

“He’s 6(-foot-)6 and he takes up a lot of space,” Lawless said. “He neutralizes a lot of really good opponents because he’s a force at the net.” 

Lawless also said Miles Howland, who had 67 kills, 59 digs and 24 blocks, has been a force on the outside. 

“He’s a difference maker for us,” Lawless said. “He can put the ball down and he’s a good blocker. Scoring in different ways, it helps make Joe’s job as a setter a lot easier when you know you have three guys who can bury the ball.” 

Lawless said Ethan Archer has been solid at libero with 105 digs and 20 assists. 

The Cardinals have reflected on their season so far, Lawless said, and have collectively decided their goal is “to hang a banner.” 

“If we win out and take care of business, we can win the league,” he said. “As far as the postseason, going to a regional final has always been the goal with this group.” 

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

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