Baldwin boys volleyball team comes of age
Baldwin coach Eric Falcione has elevated expectations for the boys volleyball team.
His reasoning is three-fold.
Right-side hitter Ben Remlinger, setter Dante Parente and middle hitter Mike Goga have been starters for the Highlanders for the past three seasons.
Falcione is looking for the veterans to be catalysts in 2018.
“Remlinger and Parente have been on the varsity since their freshman year,” Falcione said. “Both have trained hard during the offseason to combat the intense physical aspects of the game. Goga just finished an all-star season playing basketball. All three should be top-level players at their positions.”
Remlinger, a first-team all-section selection last year, prepared for the season by competing for the A-10 club team. He also played for the St. Elizabeth CYO basketball team coached by his older brother, Gary.
“I expect us to win section, but it will be tough because Bethel Park is always a tough team to play,” Remlinger said. “But I feel we will overpower them because we have a lot of returning guys from last year. We have players who can hit and pass very well. We’ve been working a lot on our passing. That will be the key to our success this year. If we can pass and play good defense, we will be a force to be reckoned with.”
Parente and Goga, the Highlanders’ tallest player at 6-foot-4, landed second-team all-section honors a year ago.
Another key team member for Baldwin is Russ Cyprowski, a junior outside hitter and returning starter.
“Russ is one of my most consistent players,” Falcione said. “He excels at every aspect of the game. Plus, he has the most fun out there.”
Three others who have secured early starting positions include Colton Barr, a junior defensive specialist; and sophomores Mark Campagna (utility player) and Zach Remlinger (outside hitter), Ben’s younger brother.
“Colton is vying for the libero position,” Falcione said. “Mark is a good athlete. He has the ability to play at all three front row positions. Plus, he’s a good passer. Zach is a pretty solid player. Once he realizes how good he is, he will be hard to stop.”
Others looking to make contributions this season include seniors Justin Hackman and Dan Kolski, juniors Austin Bechtold, Jake Kemerer and Nick Pouch, plus sophomores Ted Boehm and Mason Hoydick.
“It was a nice surprise for us that Dan (Kolski) decided to play this year,” Falcione said. “He’s a good athlete who is going to make an impact.”
Remlinger, Parente, Goga, Cyprowski and Boehm were part of the Highlanders’ starting rotation last year.
Boehm, a Pittsburgh Volleyball Club player, last year was the first freshman to earn a starting job on the Highlanders’ varsity team since Mike DeLyser in 2007. DeLyser, who graduated from Baldwin in 2010, continued his volleyball career at St. Francis (Pa.).
Remlinger owns a 3.85 GPA and plans to play volleyball and major in economics at Penn State Altoona. But he has more immediate plans for the 2018 season.
“We want to establish Baldwin as a top-10 team again after a two-year drought with no playoffs,” said Remlinger, who eventually wants to attend law school. “This team has a lot of zeal and confidence. We all play for each other and win for the guy right next to us, so I believe the team will be talked about a lot this year.”
Falcione is assisted by Adam Foote along with JV coaches Milan Yekich and Ray Stofanak.
Foote has served as head coach and assistant coach in the Baldwin girls volleyball teams in recent years. He also has coaching experience in the boys program.
“Adam has been part of the (coaching) tandem behind the success of the girls volleyball program,” Falcione said. “He was the boys assistant several years ago and went on to win back-to-back championships as a coach with the girls team. We are really happy to have him back this year.”
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.