“I think my game is the best I’ve ever seen,” he said.
After Kohlasch was called to the varsity as a midseason freshman, he struggled with excruciating back pain that led to a diagnosis of twisted ribs and left him “basically a turtle” on his back. He missed three weeks, but shortly before the 2019 state tournament, Kohlasch broke his right middle finger when a hard-hit ball bounced off him in the warm-up. He did not play again this season.
The latest sports headlines from The Globe delivered to your inbox every morning.
“I immediately thought, oh, that feels weird because it wasn’t like a jam,” he said. “It was incandescent and I couldn’t move it.”
Kohlasch healed in time for the club schedule to follow, but waited with the rest of his Lexington teammates when the spring 2020 season was cancelled. By the start of 2021, he was ready to take on a leadership role as a junior.
Two games into the regular season against Arlington, Kohlasch came off a block, felt his left ankle crumple and couldn’t get his foot back into his shoe. He was diagnosed with a serious sprain and, despite an optimistic initial schedule, did not return for the remainder of the season. Kohlasch was stunned.
“When you get pulled out of something that quickly, it becomes really hard to look at every day,” he said. “To be honest, I was really angry. . . I had waited for this moment for so long.”
Slowly Kohlasch got used to learning and teaching from the sidelines. At first he just watched calmly on the bench. Then Kohlasch began pulling players aside to point out details. He showed up for every practice session, even when injured, and wrestled with players to practice outside during the offseason.
“He’s worked really hard to become a better leader and contribute to the team in every way he can,” said senior co-captain Alex Hristov.
Kohlasch made a confident return to the club with Boston UVC this winter and continued to study the game. Hristov says Lexington has introduced a more complex offense with more pace compared to years past, and credits Kohlasch with driving the development.
“He’s a great leader,” said Lexington coach Jane Bergin. “[He] knows the game very well and has a high volleyball IQ.”
Out of necessity, Kohlasch also sharpened his awareness of his own body. His mother, Victoria Nessen, describes the family as a “fitness household” who exercise and develop conditioning programs together. She remembers making weights out of paper towel rolls for a toddler Kohlasch.
As Kohlasch worked his way from crutches to a brace to no ankle brace, he began physical therapy. Once he was free to roam, he brought friends to play volleyball and spikeball, and played golf with his father, Jim Kohlasch. He also incorporates ankle mobility exercises into his injury prevention routine.
“As a mother, I’m so proud,” said Nessen. “I’m proud because he’s playing really, really well. And he prepared his body for it.”
Lexington are second in the Globe Top 20 with a comfortable 3-0 win over Newton South underscoring their record so far. Kohlasch says he expected no less, but the team could shift up a gear. The wrinkled senior setter will be instrumental in determining the Minutemen’s final cap.
“[Kohlasch] made that kind of move from a general setter to, I think, one of the best in the state,” Hristov said.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
▪ The Winchester tournament begins its fourth edition on Wednesday. Comprised of frontrunners Needham, No. 20 O’Bryant, rising New Bedford and No. 8 Winchester, the tournament should serve as the culmination of April’s action.
“The goal was to get some good teams together and [play] good, competitive games in the April break,” said Winchester manager John Fleming.
Fleming said he was inspired to start the tournament after watching the Coaches Cup in lacrosse. Rather than slowing things down in the middle of the regular season, the two-day event should give Winchester a chance to keep their rhythm and pit themselves against other top teams.
“When we started doing that, part of the change we wanted to make was that we didn’t want the season to be completely shut down,” he said. “We wanted to be able to play some competitive games that our kids can look forward to.”
▪ Aside from the Winchester tournament, the slate is sparse during spring break. Another duel to watch: No. 9 St. John’s Prep meets No. 13 Milford at 2pm on Tuesday. Both teams are undefeated, with the Eagles officiating the Catholic Conference and the Scarlet Hawks leading the Tri-Valley League.
▪ Eight teams from Eastern Mass. remain perfect in at least four games played: Needham (4-0), Lexington, Lowell (7-0), St. John’s Prep (7-0), Milford (6-0), Greater New Bedford (4-0), Boston Latin (4-0) and Revere (6-0).