The Dublin Scioto High School boys volleyball team has been looking forward to facing Coffman in the Battle of Dublin on Friday, May 3, at Jerome since losing 25-15, 17-25, 25-21 to the Shamrocks on March 30.
The Irish were missing two setters/outside hitters in that match in Josh Ashwill and Colin Pierce.
Ashwill was attending his sister's wedding that day and Pierce was recovering from mononucleosis.
"The Battle of Dublin is extremely important to us and we're excited to play Coffman again because we weren't at full strength the first time we played them," Ashwill said. "But we don't think it's going to be easy to beat them. Coffman beat us in the first match, so they must be good. We know we have to play much better this time."
Scioto will play Jerome at 6:30 p.m. and Coffman in the next match before the Celtics and Shamrocks meet in the final match.
The Irish won the Battle of Dublin last year, defeating the Shamrocks 25-21, 32-20 and Celtics 25-17, 25-22. Coffman beat Jerome 25-17, 25-13.
Scioto has faced Jerome twice this season in OCC-Cardinal Division play, winning 25-18, 25-23, 25-14 on April 4 and 25-14, 25-17, 25-12 on April 25.
"We need to come out fast and play with a lot of energy," Ashwill said. "We're tough to beat when we play hard right from the start."
The Irish will play host to Olentangy Liberty on Thursday, May 2, in an OCC-Cardinal match and will conclude the regular season Tuesday, May 7, with a league match at Westerville Central.
Scioto beat Liberty 16-25, 25-19, 25-15, 19-25, 15-10 on April 10 and defeated Central 25-21, 25-17, 25-12 on April 16.
In addition to Ashwill and Pierce, key players for the Irish include Yoshi Akutsu (opposite hitter), Ryan Link (defensive specialist), Mason Matheny (libero), Michael Orender (middle hitter) and Zach Spoelstra (setter/outside hitter).
"Our goal is to win the rest of our league matches to win an OCC championship," Ashwill said. "We didn't feel like we played our best game against Liberty last time and we want to show people what we can do."
Celtics looking to keep improving
Jerome coach Katherine Fogg acknowledges that the Battle of Dublin represents a major challenge for her team considering that the Celtics entered the week still searching for their first win.
"It's going to be a tough night for us because Coffman's decent and Scioto's stacked with skill and experience," Fogg said.
"But I'm happy with our overall growth. The boys are getting better even though our record doesn't reflect it."
Fogg was pleased with the way her players competed in a 25-18, 25-17, 15-25, 23-25, 18-16 loss to Westerville Central on April 18 and a 25-6, 25-18, 20-25, 17-25, 15-7 loss to Westerville North on April 15. Both were OCC-Cardinal matches.
"Those matches are the highlights so far this season, especially the Westerville Central match because quite a big part of our student body was there to support our team and it was an exciting match," Fogg said. "I liked the enthusiasm we had in those matches and those experiences gave our boys a taste of what volleyball is all about."
Fogg is excited about her team's future, as the Celtics have no seniors on their roster.
"Another year of growth like this one should make a big difference in our win-loss record next year," she said.
"Our boys are learning the skills, working together and seeing improvements every game.
"Our outside hitter, Luke Neff, has been hitting well and getting some kills. Our setters (Tommy Keller, Mitch Hunt and Oakley Katterheinrich) have been pretty consistent. Jon Shih (defensive specialist) is doing a great job in the back row and Peter Moseley (middle hitter) has been consistent, too."
Shamrocks hoping to get untracked
Coffman is aiming for its fourth Battle of Dublin championship in five years.
The Shamrocks, who won the event in 2009, '10 and '11 before watching the Irish end their streak a year ago, entered the week looking to end a four-match losing streak. They had won three consecutive matches before the skid.