A Newsletter for the Wootton High School Boys Volleyball Community


Wootton Learns, Earns Win at Springbrook

Patriots work through kinks in 26-24, 25-14, 25-16 victory over Blue Devils.

Ten matches into the 2012 season, Wootton has faced stiff competition and has earned ten victories. With each match, the Patriots have learned a bit more about what it takes to respond to a different set of challenges.

The Blue Devils' big hitters attacked in set one, supported by strong defensive and ball control play, and threatening to close out the set before Wootton junior setter Justin Fowler settled his team for the close two point win. Senior Michael Ip and sophomore Benjamin Wang adjusted well to Springbrook's attack to spark the Patriots' transition game down the stretch.

Wootton's adjustments between sets one and two kept Springbrook from gaining momentum on multiple point scoring runs, and Fowler fed Wootton's outside hitters, juniors Jeffrey Qiu and Henry Zhou, sophomore Paul Malinauskas and freshman Richard Hum.

Wootton jumped out to a 7-1 lead in set three and didn't look back. Sophomore Cary Chin's utility play and senior middle blocker Alan Nguyen bolstered the Patriots precision in the back and front row. With Fowler picking up the serving game and the offense kicking into higher gear, the now-smarter Patriots were able to find the open spots on Springbrook's side of the court.

With the win, the Patriots' season record improves to 10-0. On Monday, April 30, Wootton plays its last regular season match on the road against a talented Clarksburg squad that is challenging for the MCPS title. The boys match follows the 5:15 pm coed match.


Si Señor: Veterans Lead Wootton Past Gaithersburg

On Senior Night, Patriots hold off Trojans 25-14, 25-14, 25-19.

A young, athletic and well-coached Gaithersburg team challenged the Patriots with a strong digging and blocking game for three sets, but the steadying play of Wootton's veterans pushed the hosts toward it's ninth victory of the season without a loss. It was the final regular season home match for Wootton's seniors.

The impact that Michael Ip, Alan Nguyen, Nic Texier and Christopher Wong have had on Wootton's volleyball program is understated, yet far-reaching and significant. The wins have been plenty, but it's their commitment to developing all facets of being excellent teammates that has set the standard for those that will follow in their big footsteps.

Ip, who has played every position on the court, has quietly compiled a record unmatched by any player in the county in the past four years. Including the Gaithersburg win, Ip has contributed to Wootton's 44-1 regular season record since 2009. "Quiet Mike" has never walked away from a challenge, and his teammates are now benefitting from his leadership.

Nguyen, a fierce competitor at middle blocker, has earned the endearing nickname "Jungle Man" and elicits chest-pounding grunts from his teammates for each of his volleyball-pounding kills. No doubt his team rallies behind him on the court, yet his humble approach to success is perhaps most impressive on and off the court. 

Texier, one of the county's best middle attackers since he was a sophomore, has been on sidelines in 2012 due to injury. Though the Patriots miss Nic on the court, his encouraging presence at practice, his leadership and his appearance as a "serving specialist" in the Gaithersburg match have energized the team during the home stretch of the season. Should Nic be ready to patrol the nets to complete his senior season, it will be an added bonus to his already-stellar career.

Wong, a terrific all-around player and one of the best defensive players in the county during his career, has been the standard for work ethic at Wootton. Though his focus his senior year has taken him beyond the volleyball court, his presence is felt each time a Wootton player relentlessly pursues the volleyball.

Well done, Seniors. Except, you are not done yet.

The Patriots are on the road to face a tough Springbrook squad on Wednesday, April 25. The boys' match follows the 5:15 pm coed match.


In the Dawgpound, Patriots Mark Territory, Win Division Crown

Patriots sweep Bulldogs 25-9, 25-14, 25-18.

Grantland Rice (1880-1954), an American sports writer, said:
For when the One Great Scorer comes, / To write against your name, / He marks - not that you won or lost - / But how you played the Game.
 Nice sentiment.  Tennis great Martina Navratilova followed up years later with an appending thought:
Whoever said, "It's not whether you win or lose that counts," probably lost.
Ah, Martina didn't discount the competitive spirit and drive to win.  Her thinking certainly served her and the game of tennis well. Fortunately for the Patriots,

For Wootton seniors Michael Ip, Alan Nguyen and Nic Texier, Thursday's match against Churchill served as affirmation of their competitive spirit and how they play the game of volleyball.  The three seniors completed an unblemished record versus the rival Bulldogs, having never lost in their years playing for the Patriots.

And for senior Texier, who had been forced to sit our all season due to injury, the Churchill match marked the first time he set foot on the court, leading the younger Patriots, including freshmen Richard Hum and Mark Pang and sophomores Benjamin Wang and Cary Chin, to match point and the Patriots eighth victory of the season without a loss.  The win also marked the fourth consecutive MCPS Division Championship for the Patriots.

Seniors Ip, Nguyen and Texier will be celebrated on Senior night prior to their last home match on Monday, April 23 at 7 pm against Gaithersburg.


Wootton-Sherwood: Wootton Sure Did

Patriots squeek by Warriors 25-20, 25-23, 25-22

Perennial power Sherwood brought its strong blocking and outside attack to Wootton's gym with playoff seeding at stake.  In the end, Wootton had the upper hand in a highly competitive match, and remained unbeaten and tied with Richard Montgomery in the overall MCPS standings.

Once again, setter Justin Fowler directed an attack led by outside hitters Jeffrey Qiu, Henry Zhou, Paul Malinauskas. Charles Wang provided solid blocking in the middle, along with Alan Nguyen. Do-everything senior Michael Ip had an excellent all-around match and libero Benjamin Wang covered a large part of the court on serve receive and defense/transition.

Of note for the Patriots was a comeback from an eight point deficit in set two to take the win.

The Patriots aim to clinch the division title on the road against rival Churchill on Thursday, April 19. First serve is scheduled for 30 minutes after the 5:15 pm coed match.

In Battle of Unbeatens, Wootton Tops Blake

Patriots end Bengal win streak at six, 25-8, 25-14, 25-21

"It's not so important who starts the game but who finishes it"
Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden

Wootton started it's match against Blake High School playing as solid a game as it has all year, with  passes on target, tough serving, smart setting and an agressive attack.  The patriots jumped out to a large lead in set one and never looked back. It was a complete team effort that put a measure of success on the Patriots preparation for the previously 6-0 Bengals, who were a half game ahead of the Patriots in the race for the division championship.  But volleyball matches do not end after one set.

In set 2, the Patriots again jumped out to an early lead, but Blake fought back, showing signs that set one was an anomaly. The Bengals are a good defensive team and were able to dig some of Wootton's hard hit balls and force errors on Wootton's side of the net. Though the Patriots pulled away at the end to go up 2-0, the Bengals were warming up to the competition.

BONG! You can almost hear the bell that rings when Rocky Balboa takes Apollo Creed beyond the third round and the realization sets in that this was going to be a heck of a boxing match.  Set three was a serve against serve, point to point matchup that was deadlocked at 18 all when the Patriots had to dig deeper to deliver the final punches to secure the match victory.

So, the important thing about in this match was how both teams finished, with Blake showing the athleticism and competitive spirit that has put them near the top of MCPS volleyball this spring, and with Wootton showing it's strength through adversity. And in the end, it was a battle between two of the three remaining unbeaten teams. And at the final whistle, Wootton took the upper hand for the division crown; but a possible meeting in the playoffs should be an interesting rematch.

Wootton takes on a talented team when perennial powerhouse Sherwood visits on Wednesday, April 18. The first serve is scheduled to take place 30 minutes after the end of the 5:15 pm coed match.


Key Win at Walter Johnson Positions Wootton In Thick of Race for Division Crown

Patriots tame Wildcats 25-7, 25-12, 25-16 to remain unbeaten; To face unbeaten Blake at home on Monday, April 16.
It was a good night for high school sports in Montgomery County. The baseball, track, softball and lacrosse teams are now well into their spring seasons and critical matchups are determining who will play for the division, county and state championships. At Walter Johnson High School, the talented Wootton lacrosse team was playing against formidable Wildcats outside on the turf while the Patriot volleyball teams took to the hardwood inside the gymnasium in a division match against traditionally strong rival.

Wootton had the upper hand in this match with experience. Walter Johnson played tough defense throughout the match. For the Patriots, Paul Malinauskas, Jeffrey Qiu, Justin Fowler, Henry Zhou, Benjamin Wang, Charles Wang, and do-everything Michael Ip provided a well-balanced attack and defensive effort for the win. Freshmen Richard Hum and Mark Pang, along with sophomore Cary Chin and senior Alan Nguyen, kept the pressure on the Wildcats with key plays coming off the bench.

Too bad the local papers don't cover volleyball.  There are many compelling stories to tell about boys volleyball in Montgomery County. The world's #2 participation sport draws from fan base that is extensive, engaged, committed and knowledgeable about the athleticism to compete at a high level. Inside Walter Johnson's gymnasium were two high school communities that represent that fan base well.  You won't be able to read about what happened in the Gazette.  We'll just have to keep it a secret among the estimated 240 boys playing at Montgomery County's 26 high schools, and the 800 million players worldwide who love their sport.

Wootton faces unbeaten Blak at home on Monday, April 16. The first serve is 30 minutes after the completion of the 5:15 pm coed match.


Wootton Earns Road Win at Paint Branch

Patriots improve season record to 4-0 with 25-7, 25-9, 25-7 win.

The Patriots traveled across county to face Paint Branch on their home court in a division match. While satisfied with a win, the scores did not indicate the level play necessary to hold off the young, athletic Paint Branch squad.

The Patriots travel to play the Walter Johnson Wildcats on Friday, April, 13 at 5:15 pm.... and hope for little luck on an unlucky day.