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Hudson boys volleyball squad has high hopes in 2017

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: April 2, 2017 12:02 AM
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They have talent and depth and most importantly, there seems to be some growing interest.

As a result, Hudson 11th-year head boys volleyball coach Larry Meehan can't wait for the season to begin.

"I am very enthusiastic about this year's team," he said. "In addition to having a greater concentration of varsity talent than we have had in years, we have brought in a number of younger players this season."

The Explorers, who finished 8-13 after losing to Lakewood St. Edward 25-11, 25-12, 25-14 in the opening round of the 2016 postseason, features nine seniors, five sophomores and five freshmen.

"It is the largest contingent of freshmen we have ever had," Meehan said. "We frequently get juniors and seniors coming late to the game. That was never an ideal situation for learning volleyball, but we always made it work.

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"Having this number of younger players will help us continue to grow, increasing our players' knowledge and skill sets in the years that come."

Having this much depth certainly helps offsets Hudson's losses.

Key graduates from last season are three-time letter winner Griffin Rudy, an outside hitter who was named to the all-region second team, two-time letter winners Bryce Meyer (middle blocker), Josh Kempton (middle blocker), Andrew Suchan (right-side hitter) and Aaron Bovaird (defensive specialist) and Brandon Collins (right-side hitter).

But there are plenty of seniors lurking in the gym for the Explorers.

Leading the senior class is Larry Meehan, who is the coach's son. Meehan, a 6-foot-3 outside hitter/setter, received honorable mention to the all-region team, has earned three letters heading into the spring.

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"We ask Larry to do a bit of everything," coach Meehan said. "He is one of the principal setters in our hybrid six-two system and one of our stalwart hitters and blockers across the front."

Senior two-time letter winners Kyle Michl (setter) and Thomas Morgan (libero) also return.

"Kyle is one of our principal setters as well as a team organizer and leader," coach Meehan said. "He keeps striving to improve and it sets a positive tone.

"Thomas has continued to grow into his role as our principal passer and defender. There is significant responsibility to his role and I have full faith that he is up to the task."

Another returning senior letter winner is right-side hitter Kellen McCabe.

"Kellen contributed as a defensive specialist last year," coach Meehan said. "This year, Kellen looks to be a six-rotation player, bringing a good understanding of the game as well as a left-handed swing to the front row."

The rest of the senior class features Kolby Miller (right-side hitter), 6-5 Mitch Gray (middle blocker), Jan Dolkowski, who coach Meehan said can play anywhere on the court, Shelby Cash (outside hitter) and Luke Zelich (outside hitter).

"Kolby just started playing the game over the winter, so the mechanics and nuances of the game are a work in progress. But he is bringing a great deal of athleticism and enthusiasm.

"Mitch also began playing this winter and he has made good strides in a short time. He brings impressive height and athleticism to our front row.

"Jan is a foreign-exchange student from Poland. He has a diverse skill set and great enthusiasm for the game and team. We will use him in a variety of roles.

"Shelby was a first-year player last season. He'll help us out in the front row and is a positive influence on the team chemistry.

"Luke started playing over the winter and is rapidly learning the game. I look for him to help us in the front row as the season progresses."

Hudson has three talented sophomores, who should see plenty of varsity action. They are returning letter winners Matthew Gentry (a 6-5 outside hitter/middle blocker), Shane Chilcott (a 6-4 middle blocker) and Aidan L'Hommedieu (setter/defensive specialist).

"Matt came on strong late in the year with his hitting and blocking," coach Meehan said. "He played club ball over the winter and has been selected to play with Ohio's high performance team this summer. We are looking for Matt to move out of the middle and be a six-rotation player, hitting from the outside and out of the back, too.

"Shane stepped in and contributed with his hit and block last year. This season, he will be a principal middle for us, as well as adding some punch at the service line.

"Aidan will likely see time in the back row as well as setting for the varsity. Last year, he contributed as a defensive specialist as well as a consistent server."

The team's varsity assistant is Jason Rochette. Other assistant coaches are Greg Selner and Bob Kennedy.

Since they have some height, the Explorers should be formidable in the front row, particularly on defense.

"This is the tallest team we've ever had," coach Meehan said. "We will depend on our block to set the tone in most matches. We also have some skilled diggers in Morgan and Michl to work behind them."

Hudson, which plans to utilize a 6-2 attack, should be especially lethal on the offensive end.

"We have dynamic athletes," coach Meehan said. "We have to pass the serve to succeed and in this regard, I am hopeful."

The Explorers do have one major weakness they will need to address as the season progresses.

"My greatest concern surrounds the effectiveness of our service game," coach Meehan said. "However, like most aspects of this team, there is good upside."

Hudson is scheduled to make its 2017 debut against Brecksville-Broadview Heights April 4 at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium. Play is set to begin at 6 p.m.

The Explorers are scheduled to entertain Kent Roosevelt April 5. Play is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.

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