MOUNT VERNON — With a 4-4 record, the Mount Vernon boys volleyball team isn’t panicking.
Quite the contrary.
The Yellow Jackets have lost to some of the best teams in the state. And their 25-10, 25-13, 25-9 pounding of Pickerington Central on Tuesday — their second victory in as many nights — show that they are still one of the elite teams in the state.
And that is translating into respect from other coaches. Now a Division II team, Mount Vernon is currently ranked No. 8 in the state. This, despite a .500 record and not having been seen firsthand by any fellow Division II coaches.
“I feel like we’re going to have to work harder than in past years,” said Mount Vernon’s Alex Robinson. “I think, if we play as a team, we can (be successful).”
“We’ve worked a lot on defense, on serving and passing,” said Mount Vernon assistant coach Abby Smith. “I think we need to show that we can take it over at a consistent level at our level of play.”
After early losses to Division I powerhouses like St. Edward, Elgin and Hilliard Davidson, the Jackets have built toughness. That has allowed them to pull ahead early on less-talented teams like the Tigers of Pick Central.
“Teams aren’t made when things happen all the time,” said Mount Vernon’s Matt McManaway. “A game like this, when we can get the whole bench in, shows who we can have in there that can make this team better.”
“We’ve been (moving people) since the beginning of the year, throwing them in,” said Smith. “If we have to put people in different positions later, we’ll be able to.”
Some experimentation happened on Tuesday. Robinson was moved to setter in the third set, and younger players got to see some time playing on varsity.
Freshman Luke Earnest saw his first varsity action on Tuesday, landing two kills.
“It was exciting. It was different,” said Earnest of his first appearance. “(I had) a little nervousness. (I wanted) to do good. Get the kills. Get the blocks. ... I just wanted to help the team, fill in wherever I could and do my best.”
No matter what lineup head coach Alan Cassell put in, the players worked well together.
“All of our team jells pretty well,” said Earnest. “We’re all pretty good friends. We just have to work together and make the best out of it.”
With solid victories over average teams and close losses to powerhouses, it all could translate to yet another Ohio Capital Conference title — and more.