Ashley Sprau is one of five seniors back for the Delaware Hayes High School volleyball team.

Ashley Sprau is one of five seniors back for the Delaware Hayes High School volleyball team.

Sprau, the OCC-Capital Player of the Year, was second-team all-district and honorable mention all-Ohio. The Pacers who finished 15-7 overall and third in the league at 8-4.

Fourth-year coach Doug Franz thinks there is enough talent surrounding Sprau that the Pacers can reach one of their main goals and win their first Division I district tournament match since 2004.

"Ashley is back and we'll obviously build around her and I'm optimistic that we'll pick up where we left off last season," Franz said. "We had a great year, but this season we're looking at going much further in the tournament. That's something we've talked a lot about."

Delaware lost to Worthington Kilbourne in the first round last season. The Pacers had a first-round bye in 2007, but lost the first match they played. Their last tournament win was in 2004 when they were seeded sixth and beat Westerville North in the second round before losing to Dublin Scioto in a district semifinal.

At 6-foot-1, Sprau is moving from middle hitter to outside hitter. She is joined by 6-0 senior Megan Swan, a second-team all-league selection. Swan is also moving from middle to outside.

Senior Liz Palmer (6-0) returns in the middle, where she is joined by junior Abby Kremer, a first-year player.

"Both of our middle hitters will do a great job complementing Ashley," Franz said. "Then defenses also have to contend with Megan outside, too. Defenses will be geared to stopping Ashley. Moving her outside will get the outside working and help us move the ball better and mix it up."

Junior Carly Shaw is the setter and senior Hilary McGinnis is the libero. Rounding out the roster are senior right-side hitter Hannah Howser, senior defensive specialists Mo Flahive and Emily Stout and junior defensive specialist Chelsea Amato.

Flahive and Stout are in their first seasons in the program.

In league play last season, the Pacers finished behind Big Walnut (12-0) and Mount Vernon (9-3) and ahead of Olentangy Orange (6-6), New Albany (5-7), Watkins Memorial (2-10) and Franklin Heights (0-12).

"We're losing Franklin Heights (because of a levy failure) and getting Hilliard Bradley," Franz said of the league. "I expect Bradley to be pretty good, so the league should be better. Big Walnut is always tough and New Albany and Watkins Memorial should also be strong. Orange was young and should be real improved. It's a tough conference."