In just his second year with the varsity volleyball team, Thomas Kulsh is taking charge as the starting setter for O’Bryant. His coach, Paul Pitts-Dilley, says no one with his experience should be performing as well as he is.
On Wednesday afternoon, Kulsh continued to surprise his coach as he led O’Bryant to a victory over Madison Park in four sets, 25-22, 21-25, 25-22, 27-25.
“Last week he had 57 assists in two consecutive games. When he plays well, we play well,” Pitts-Dilley said.
Kulsh had 15 assists in Wednesday’s match to go with 2 kills and 2 serving aces. The sophomore proved he could help the players around him, with junior middle hitter Tobi Fashemi recording 11 kills.
Those performances were imperative for O’Bryant after it allowed Madison Park to come back from a 6-point deficit and win the second set.
Pitts-Dilley said the meltdown was the result of his players blaming each other for mistakes on the court.
“When we play yelling at each other, we’re an awful team. When we play supporting each other, we’re a decent team and resiliency was key today,” Pitts-Dilley said.
Madison Park did not have such resiliency. After losing the third set by 3 points, it allowed a O’Bryant rally in the deciding set.
“We started making mental mistakes and people started getting frustrated with each other and we ended up just blowing that set,” assistant coach Eli Plaza said. “They know how good they can play, they've just got to keep their attitudes straight and then be able to overcome situations like those.”
Madison Park head coach Carla Hands was forced to leave the game early.
“We need to get some good plays to get our spirits back up,” Kulsh said of the O’Bryant rally. “Forget about what happened before, all of our mistakes, and just put them behind us.”
While Kulsh has a comfort level that makes it appear he has been playing the game for a while, Pitts-Daley said hard work and practice are behind the sophomore’s performances of late.
When it’s not volleyball season, Kulsh found himself in the girls practice or the Madison Park open gym working on his game. The coach said he’s even heard Kulsh, as well as his other players, practicing in his O’Bryant classroom while he grades assignments.
But O’Bryant hasn’t reached its goal.
“We’re only one game away from states, but that shouldn’t be all we’re going for. We should be going for best in the league,” Kulsh said.
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