With the addition of 17 freshmen to his program, Dublin Coffman High School boys volleyball coach Mark Saelzler has been able to increase the number of players on his varsity roster to 13 after having eight last year.

With the addition of 17 freshmen to his program, Dublin Coffman High School boys volleyball coach Mark Saelzler has been able to increase the number of players on his varsity roster to 13 after having eight last year.

Saelzler also has enough players to add a freshman team for the first time in his four years as coach.

Still, with only one returning letterwinner in his lineup in junior middle hitter Colin Hayes, Saelzler understands his squad will have a difficult time matching last year's 16-9 finish.

"We're a little deeper than most teams, but our guys aren't used to the pace of varsity matches yet, and it's going to take some time before they're up to speed," said Saelzler, whose team opened March 27 against Hilliard Davidson in an OCC-Ohio Division match. "This is going to be a learning year and our main goal is development. We're working on improving our serving, hitting and passing so we can improve as the season goes on."

Senior Adam Bailey will start at setter, junior Trent Rantala will start at outside hitter, senior Steffan Thomas will start at middle hitter and sophomore Patrick Smith will start at libero.

Vying to start at the second outside hitter position are seniors Colin Giacalone and Eric Whitley. Senior Hasan Rikabi will play as an opposite hitter.

Rounding out the lineup are senior defensive specialists Mason Cessna, Mason Eberhart and Kevin Putnam, senior outside hitter Tyler McCourt and senior middle hitter T.J. Amend.

Last year, the Shamrocks tied Kilbourne for third (5-5) in the OCC-Ohio behind Hilliard Darby (10-0) and Hilliard Davidson (8-2) and ahead of Upper Arlington (2-8) and Thomas Worthington (0-10).

Coffman opened the Division I East Regional tournament with a 23-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-19 win over Olentangy Liberty before losing to third-seeded Mount Vernon 25-18, 25-16, 25-22 in a semifinal.

"If we win the games we're supposed to win, we should be around .500 and finish third in the OCC behind Darby and Davidson," Saelzler said. "If we develop quickly, we could challenge Davidson for second."

Irish ready for league competition

Scioto opened March 24 with three wins: 25-14, 25-11, 22-25, 25-11 over Whetstone, 25-15, 25-19, 25-14 over Delaware and 25-27, 25-20, 25-16, 21-25, 16-14 over Kilbourne. The Irish began OCC-Cardinal play March 27 against Olentangy Liberty.

The Irish finished 6-15 overall last season after opening the Division II East Regional tournament with a 25-17, 18-25, 25-22, 25-14 win over Whetstone and losing to second-seeded Hilliard Bradley 25-17, 25-9, 25-14 in a semifinal.

Scioto finished fifth in the OCC-Cardinal at 2-8, behind Westerville North (10-0), Olentangy Liberty (8-2), Westerville Central (6-4) and Westerville South (3-7) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (1-9).

"Liberty and North look like they're the teams to beat in the OCC, but our goal is to compete with everyone in the OCC, and I think we've got the team to do that," eighth-year coach Doug Arden said.

Five juniors who started multiple matches last season are back in Yoshi Akutsu (opposite hitter), Josh Ashwill (setter/outside hitter), Mason Matheny (libero), Colin Pierce (middle hitter) and Noah Schuster (middle hitter).

Ashwill, who was first-team all-league and second-team all-region, was leading the Irish in kills, assists and aces before breaking his left wrist while playing basketball late last season.

Rounding out the roster are senior John Gresham (opposite hitter/middle hitter), juniors Ryan Link (defensive specialist), Michael Orender (middle hitter), Zane Sherman (defensive specialist) and Travis Wehder (opposite hitter/middle hitter) and sophomore Tobi Kim (defensive specialist).

"This is the biggest team we've ever had," Arden said. "Everyone except our libero is over 6 feet tall, and we've made a lot of progress with our hitting. We should be balanced offensively, and our blocking and defense should be good."

Celtics expecting 'good things'

Jerome opened March 27 with an OCC-Cardinal match against Westerville Central.

The Celtics finished 3-13 overall last year after opening the Division II East Regional tournament with a 25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 25-17 loss to DeSales.

"At Dublin Jerome, we always have new kids come out starting with only the basics and we always seem to go through a rebuilding year," seventh-year coach Katherine Fogg said. "But I enjoy teaching and working with the kids, and I think we're going to have some good things happen."

Three players who started multiple matches are back in seniors Griffin McKenna (outside hitter) and James Warvel (middle hitter) and junior Alex Cathis (middle hitter).

Warvel was second-team all-league and all-region last season.

Other players who are expected to contribute are seniors Keenan Fukunaga (defensive specialist), Hunter McCullough (outside hitter), Kyle Sankovich (setter/outside hitter) and Austin Toth (outside hitter), junior Kion Rashidi (libero) and sophomores Tommy Keller (setter), Matt McCarty (outside hitter) and Logan Mosher (setter).

"James Warvel will be a standout in our area," Fogg said. "Kion Rashidi is coming around with his skills in the back row. Griffin McKenna will play a big role on our team. And Alex Cathis has phenomenal blocking skills."