A Newsletter for the Wootton High School Boys Volleyball Community


On the Souls of Our Feat(s)

Wootton slides past Whitman 25-10, 25-12, 25-18

Monday, March 31, 2014
by John Hartranft

The Spring 1988 Whitman volleyball teams stand tall in my memory, though only a few of the individuals hovered near six foot in height. Gil Thompson coached the varsity teams and I coached the JV coed team (see photo).  There were 24 players on that JV coed team--that's a lot of footwork to be trained to pass, set, hit and block. Part of the challenge that season was to give everybody meaningful time on the court during matches and to maximize the practice contacts needed to improve.

I thought about that 1988 Whitman team today when my current Wootton boys team played Whitman. I thought about the many steps taken by that 1988 team to get better. I thought about how we went toe to toe with some good teams in Montgomery County that year. I thought of some tracing their footsteps back to their parents' homelands in Burma, Brazil, South Korea, Israel, and China, and bringing back candies and soda for their coach. I thought about the giant leap Ingrid Chen made when she was named All-Met by the Washington Post two years later.

In addition to Ingrid, the names of these good souls were Dmitri Siegel, Sarah Smith, David Hisle, Mia Keefe, Ryan Kaplan, Mauro Rosenberg, Liz Henry, Noah Berlin, Lee Chen, Chris King, Patricia, Andrade, Aung Htut, Francesco Cibo, Christine Huo, Jiwon Paik, Carlos Castro-Neves, Ben Goldberg, Youngmin Park, Ana Corta, Barbara Sullivan, and Belle Chen.

Their teammate Gustavo Machado (second row, third from the left, behind #3) and varsity player Dov Fischman were also in my thoughts today. Gustavo and Dov, along with Samir Gafsi and Bruno Perrone, were brilliant young men who were suddenly gone later that same year.  Rest their souls. I think about them to renew my perspective about life, volleyball and the greater value of teams.

The youngest of the group is turning 40 this year. Their feats have no doubt been many and great since 1988.

I also thought about how that team travelled to Wootton that year to play against one of the legendary Mickey Lipman-coached teams that dominated Maryland volleyball in the 1980s.  Now I find myself sitting where Coach Lipman created a dynasty of seven straight state championships. Lipman's feat is humbling to those following in his shadow. And on the bench with me is a team of 16 players and 4 managers. That's a lot of footwork currently being trained to pass, set, hit, and block.

Every Spring 2014 Wootton player got to play against Whitman, except for Henry Shu, who is just now getting back on his feet after hobbling a bit this season. In addition to Henry, their names are Nathan Xie, Benjamin Wang, Henry Shu, James Ho, Andrew Merchant, Cary Chin, Justin Wu, Victor de Avila, Omar Nunez, Jeremy Chung, David Li, Mark Pang, Robert Severynse, Adam Kaplan, Paul Malinauskas, Ethan Frymark, Max Shin, David Juhnn, Noah Ru, and Timothy Chang.

All good souls contributing to the greater value of team. May their feats be many and great.


Facing Northwest, Wootton Maps Win

Patriots ace test against Jaguars 25-6, 25-12, 25-21.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

Finding the right direction to go can be made clear by the stars in the night sky, road signs along the way, or the GPS talking in a voice of preference. Given the name of Wootton's opponent, Northwest, there was no issue about where to be and which direction to go. It's on the map.

Three weeks after forming a team, the Wootton boys are getting to know their own team's strengths and weaknesses and can train to improve in all aspects. But, unknown challenges and opportunities of  respected opponents presents murkier roadmap. Wootton formed it's own strategic 'map" to prepare for Northwest.

That map included 3 major "routes': 1) Serve aggressively to take Northwest's formidable hitters out of system; 2) Control the ball and eliminate careless errors; 3) Implement a new lineup designed to optimize strengths and match up against Northwest's strong block.

The first two strategies worked well for Wootton. The team scored on 16 aces and served Northwest out of system another 38 times while committing on 5 service errors. Holding onto the serve also mitigated the impact of Northwest's strong serving game and sharpened Wootton's focus on controlling the ball to win rallies.

The new lineup, however, presented challenges in several rotations. Though fifteen Wootton players saw court time during the three-set match, a few unnecessarily played out of position, though performed admirably.  Players finding a way to play good volleyball despite the coach's lineup shortcomings is a step in the right direction.

Maybe following these steps will help the Wootton coach figure things out?

Wootton continues it's 2014 journey when it returns home to face Whitman on Monday, March 31 at 5:15.


While Finding A Way Around Quince Orchard, Wootton Harvests Winning Fruit

Patriots win 25-15, 25-16, 25-15.
Surely man was not created to be an idle fellow; he was not set in this universal orchard to stand still as a tree.
~ Thomas Dekker

Two teams created to play a volleyball match against each other on Monday night were most certainly not a bunch of idle fellows.  Quince Orchard and Wootton put up blocks that were tree-like in stature, and found ways to throw up limbs in the way of opposing attackers. Back row players were keeping the ball off the floor with the kind of hustle that would deny an orchard full of falling quince from ever touching soil. It's volleyball season in the universal orchard.

Two matches into the season, the Patriots are still in the process of cultivating the skills and strategies that will produce the fruits of success. Each set featured a different Patriot lineup that found a way to recover from QO's blocks, and to play a patient transition game against a very good defensive team.

Seniors Cary Chin, Paul Malinauskas, Ben Wang and David Li led the Patriots on the floor. Juniors Mark Pang, Robert Severynse, Ethan Frymark and Adam Kaplan gave the Patriots an early lead while Jeremy Chung added a strong finish. Sophomore Jimmy Ho took over the left side in set three and Freshmen Vincent de Avila and Omar Nunez paced the middle in sets two and three.

Wootton has one day back in the practice gym to work on lineups before traveling to face Northwest on Wednesday, March 26 at 5:15 pm.


Patriots Go to Work in Clash Against Titans

Wootton works for win against Einstein in season opener 25-5, 25-11, 26-24.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Albert Einstein's Three Rules of Work:

   1.  Out of clutter, find simplicity.
   2.  From discord, find harmony.
   3.  In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Wootton Applies Rules of Work:

1.  Having navigated the clutter of bad weather, rescheduled tryouts and assorted other preseason noise, the Wootton boys finally had the opportunity to play a game of serve, block, pass, set, hit. Simple, eh?

2. Whereas the Patriots clashed against teammates in competitive preseason training sessions, that discord turned to team harmony against a common foe in Einstein's gym. Competition in the practice gym sharpened the Patriots' focus against a tall, athletic and well-coached Titan team. Every Patriot earned court time to add their note to the harmony.

3. As the match progressed, the Titans took it to the Patriots with a stronger serve and net game. In a hard fought third set, the Patriots found opportunity to learn composure in the middle of difficulty. Down late in the match with the Titans applying pressure, the Patriots responded by steadying their ball control. It was an opportunity to learn a bit about resolve.

Seniors Paul Malinauskas and Ben Wang paced the Patriot offensive attack choreographed by senior setter Cary Chin. Senior David Li was strong off the bench as one of the cadre of hard-hitting outside hitters, including juniors Mark Pang, Andrew Merchant and Jeremy Chung.

Juniors Ethan Frymark, Adam Kaplan and Robert Severynse assumed roles to provide strength and depth in key positions. Kaplan at libero steadied the passing and transition game; Frymark as middle blocker in set 1 and setter in set 3 added a unique dimension to Wootton's lineups; Severynse contributed his aggressive net game as a middle hitter.

Sophomores Jimmy Ho and Nathan Xie began their Wootton volleyball careers smashingly as left-side hitters while Justin Wu picked up from last year as a defensive specialist, then adding few rotations at middle blocker to his repertoire.  Freshmen Omar Nunez and Victor de Avila were impressive in the middle.

A man who has a school named for him (I know, there is more to Albert Einstein's legacy) must know a few things about how the world works. Albert Einstein would have been a good volleyball coach.  He not only would follow his own rules of work, but he would also consider space and time in relation to each other to run an effective quick tempo offense.

The Patriots return home against Quince Orchard on Monday, March 24 at 5:15 pm.


2014 Season Outlook

With the largest roster (in number and height) in seven seasons at Wootton, the Patriots approach the season less experienced than recent years, but with depth in athletic ability and a desire to learn the volleyball skills necessary to compete through a tough MCPS schedule. The challenge will be to translate athletic ability to a volleyball-playing unit with a balanced offense, defensive strength, and a relentless transition game that often determine success on the court.

Wootton returns seven players from the 2013 squad, including two starters. 


Cary Chin
Cary takes over primary setting duties after contributing as a utility and defensive player the past three years. The Patriots will depend on his experience to balance the offensive attack and to steady the transition game. Cary's experience in the competitive world of nine-man volleyball translates nicely into a high awareness of game strategy and running an offense. 

Paul Malinauskas
Paul returns as one of the most experienced volleyball players in Montgomery County history. Last year's Gazette Player of the Year, Paul is poised to cap his high school career as a leader and mentor to to the next generation of Wootton players.  Called into duty to help his teammates step up the level of play necessary to compete with top teams, Paul takes his role seriously but with a humorous flair for the game. 

David Li
David joins the team for the first time as a senior player after serving the Wootton volleyball program in other roles for the past three years. His commitment to improving and his leadership by example landed him a spot on the roster, and he is showing qualities that contribute toward building a cohesive team. David brings his joy to the game and will be a crowd favorite when he is on the court. 

Benjamin Wang
Ben has been one of the county's top liberos the past two years. Now, as a fourth year senior, he adds his aggressive attacking style to become a six rotation player for the Patriots. Ben will add consistency to the passing game and his quickness and ability to read opposing attacks makes him an exciting player for fans to watch. 


Jeremy Chung
Wootton swimmer Chung has stepped out of the water and onto the volleyball court where he is finding his footing in a big way.  He is a quick learner and is already making an impact. Expect Jeremy's considerable athletic ability to shine on the court as a utility player.

Ethan Frymark
Ethan enters his second year on the roster with considerably greater skills than last year. The tallest member of the team, Ethan's passing and setting abilities make him a six rotation player who has the potential to impact the outcome of every match.

Adam Kaplan
Adam joins the team for a second year after starring for Wootton's state championship hockey team. Adam's knack for controlling a puck on ice with a stick seem to have transferred to his ability to be in the right place at the right time on the volleyball court. Adam will be a steadying influence on the court with his strong passing ability.

Andrew Merchant
Andrew joins the boys team after developing his volleyball skills on last year's coed team. His strong net skills and passing ability put him into a position to compete for an outside hitter position. The more time Andrew earns on the court, the more points Wootton will earn in a match. There will be a high correlation between Andrew's and Wootton's success.  The evidence in practice affirms his readiness to make that happen.

Mark Pang
Mark returns for a third year with strong all-around skills. His ability to come off the bench last year in critical moments has made him a key clutch player. Mark wants the ball when the game is on the line, and the Patriots will look to that this season. Expect him to have more opportunities to score points in one of the outside hitter positions this year.

Robert Severynse
Robbie is an aggressive net player who has the leaping ability to play bigger than his 6'3" height.   As he continues to develop his technique, he has the potential to become a dominating net player. His work ethic in practice is paying off in significant ways for the Patriots.  If you get an opportunity to see Robbie wind up for an attack, remember to breath.


James Ho
Jimmy joins the team for the first time as a sophomore having improved significantly from his freshman year tryout.  His all-around skills make him a natural utility player who adds value to the team as an outside hitter, passer, secondary setter and defensive specialist.

Henry Shu
Henry returns to the team for a second year having gained valuable experience training daily with and against an experienced 2013 Wootton team. As he continues to gain strength and skill, his work ethic and learning ability will place him in line to be an outstanding player.

Justin Wu
Justin spent his freshman season assimilating into Wootton's system and serving primarily as a defensive specialist. He is being called into action as a setter during training sessions as he develops his growing set of volleyball skills.  

Nathan Xie
As a first time member of the team, Nathan is showing his potential as a passer and outside hitter and defensive specialist. He will apply his considerable athletic ability as he learns the Wootton system and gains competition experience. 


If the athletic abilities of Victor de Avila and Omar Nunez are any indication of their future success, then their and Wootton's volleyball future is bright. If their ability to develop their volleyball skills as quickly as they have in preseason practices is any indication, then that future will happen much sooner than later. If they continue to train harder and smarter, Victor and Omar are going to be contributing on game day this season. 


VB Primer: Be Relentless!

This is a great volleyball rally with relentless pursuit of the ball on defense and assertive swings at the ball on offense.  What happens in between during transition is important. Watch the video a few times. First, enjoy the rally and all of the great plays on the ball. Then, watch the movement and positioning of the players without the ball.


2014 Tryouts: Day 2 & 3 UPDATED

Tryouts on Monday and Tuesday, March 3 and 4 are cancelled. MCPS is closed due to inclement weather.

Tryouts will continue for the Boys and Coed teams on Wednesday, March 5 and Thursday, March 6, 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Meet in the main gym.

People who were not at Saturday's tryout may come to the next tryout session, but be sure you have all your paperwork ready:

If you have ALREADY tried out for a sport at Wootton THIS YEAR (during Fall or Winter seasons), you must turn in the following:
  • Parent Permission/Residency Form
  • Wootton Guidelines Form
  • Medical Card
If you have not tried out for anything this year, you must bring forms 1-3 listed above AND you must bring:
  • The last page of the MCPS Physical Form (it says "Clearance Form" at the top.
  • The Concussion Testing waiver forms.

No student will be allowed to try out without a completed Clearance Form either already on file at the school or turned in at tryouts!!!