Boys Volleyball: Close-knit Worthington Kilbourne Wolves enjoying successful season

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Kilbourne's Kieran Cummings (left) and Ben Fisher leap to block the ball during a match against Westerville Central on April 19. The Wolves were 12-3 before playing Pickerington North on April 30.

Coach Meladee Hopkins described the Worthington Kilbourne boys volleyball team as “raw” entering the season, but the Wolves haven’t let that hold them back. 

Kilbourne was 12-3 overall entering an April 30 match at Pickerington North. The Wolves, who also were 7-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division, owe their success to their drive to improve and their ability to learn on the fly, Hopkins said. 

“This core group that we have, they’re very committed to listening and making adjustments and putting in time to improve their skills,” she said. “We’ve played so many games in a short amount of time, and they’ve worked hard in practice on the things we need to and they’re taking instruction well.”

Aiden Novotny has been a driving force behind the Wolves’ success. The outside hitter had 116 kills, 112 digs and 23 aces through 14 matches.

“Losing our season last year was a big arrow to the knee. But we have had some underclassmen and former j.v. players step up their game immensely and make lots of progress to bring varsity-level competition to all of our games,” he said. “One of our biggest strengths as a team is we have a lot of chemistry playing together through high school and we connect well at times, which helps us bounce back from tough losses and move on to our next set or opponent.” 

Other statistical leaders for Kilbourne include Will Hortz (205 kills, 108 digs), Kieran Cummings (185 assists, 78 kills) and Cord Podolan (123 assists). 

But outside of their on-court production, the Wolves also have demonstrated flexibility, as they’ve made three lineup changes over the course of the season, Hopkins said. 

As part of their recent third change, freshman Michael Vargo was promoted to varsity and moved to setter. Podolan was moved from setter to middle hitter, while Will Haslett was moved from libero to middle hitter and Mark Towns, a defensive specialist, also sees time in the middle. 

Hopkins said the latest adjustments produced immediate dividends. 

“It’s picked up the pace of our game,” she said. “We’re more consistent and play better defense. We’re definitely jelling, and each time we go out we’re hoping to keep it up.”

Hopkins said she initially wasn’t sure how the Wolves would fare this spring in the OCC-Cardinal and in the postseason, but they were ranked sixth in the Division II state poll released April 25. 

“There’s no doubt in my mind we would have made (the state tournament) last year,” she said. “It’s all on us. ... We control our own destiny and they know that, so they’re going to come out and take it one game at a time.” 

Hortz said strong team chemistry has put the Wolves in position for a banner season.

“We are a very close-knit team, like a family, and with that comes a great connection that we have been able to use on the court,” he said. “I would say that is one of our biggest strengths and part of why we have been able to bounce back from a full year off with an inexperienced team. We are improving fast and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year.” 

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

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