01/15/09 — MOC men's volleyball set for exciting season

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MOC men's volleyball set for exciting season

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 15, 2009 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Although the Mount Olive College men's volleyball team will experience a season of change this spring, the expectations certainly haven't been lowered.

Just ask Cole Tallman.

Named the Trojans' new head coach less than two weeks ago, Tallman inherits a team that returns 10 players from last season. The key losses are Zach Wilson, the school's all-time assists leader and defensive specialist Kris Suarez.

"It's almost been a 'best of times' thing," said Tallman. "Any time you work with young people who are talented and have an impressive work ethic, you can't wait for the next practice session or match to reach your goals.

"When young people come in ready to work hard, enjoy seeing each other ... that brings out all the great things that make college athletics a positive thing for people."

Tallman has already seen several positives.

Pedro Penate, a premier attacker and school record holder, knew Suarez's absence at libero would need to be filled this season. The 6-foot junior approached Tallman and said he wanted to help the team this year by being productive in that position.

Felix Reimundo, a 6-1 sophomore from Miami, has also expressed interest in the same position.

"Pedro is bringing the same energy and focus that he has as a hitter and Felix has been working hard at that spot on a daily basis," said Tallman. "Almost every position on the court has seen excellent daily competition. There are distinct responsibilities at every position for a volleyball team and everybody is working hard."

Wilson ran the Trojans' complex offense to near perfection under former head coach Sasha Gutor, who unexpectedly resigned late last summer. Six-foot sophomore Alex Hoekstra and newcomer Jarvis Karchewski are battling for the starting nod at setter.

Whoever directs the offense will have a wealth of power to use.

Camilo Guerci, a 6-4 junior from Miami, returns on the outside. He's joined by returnee Eliezer Maldonado and newcomer Christian Rombault. In the middle, heavy hitters Mike Carroll and Jose Lanier -- who combined for 314 kills last season -- return along with Kyle Lewis.

"They're all working really hard and being a former middle hitter myself, we're going to run a lot of our offense through that option," said Tallman.

Six-foot sophomore Noel Garcia, who pounded out 178 kills a year ago, returns at opposite. Lewis, Carroll and Lanier are cross-training at that spot to help relieve Garcia.

"I believe our fans who love volleyball will see some high-altitude excitement," said Tallman.

However, the Trojans will make few appearances at Kornegay Arena. Mount Olive will play just six of its 21 matches at home this season, including three this weekend against Grand Canyon (Ariz.), King (Tenn.) and in-state rival Lees-McRae.

The Trojans' schedule includes dates at Division II and Division III opponents and it's traditional late-season contest at perennial Division I power Penn State University.

"That's something we want to correct for the future because we have great fans here in the area," said Tallman, whose team plays its final eight matches on the road. "I want to get more people here to see them play. We've got some great teams with talented players on the schedule.

"They're going to have to learn to be road warriors. If we don't win a match, no matter who it is, we want to make them play at the highest level we can possibly make them play.

"With talent and hard work, anything is possible."