The Dublin Scioto High School boys volleyball team accomplished its two biggest regular-season goals over the course of two days last week.
On May 2, the Irish outlasted Olentangy Liberty 18-25, 25-21, 24-26, 25-15, 15-7 in an OCC-Cardinal Division match to capture a share of their first league title since 2003.
The next day, Scioto defeated host Jerome 25-5, 25-5 and Coffman 25-17, 25-10 to win the Battle of Dublin for the second consecutive year.
"Winning our league and winning the Battle of Dublin are our top two goals every season, so this has been a great couple of days for our team," Irish coach Doug Arden said. "We get to take the Battle of Dublin trophy back home and we can add an OCC championship sign to our wall at school, too. The kids worked hard for this and they deserve to be champions."
The Battle of Dublin championship is Scioto's third in the event's nine-year history. The Irish won their first title in 2006. Coffman has won the championship four times (2005, 2009-11) and Jerome has won it twice (2007, '08).
Scioto beat Jerome for the third time this season. The Irish swept the Celtics in OCC-Cardinal play, winning 25-18, 25-23, 25-14 on April 4 and 25-14, 25-17, 25-12 on April 25.
"It's always tougher to beat a team for the third time in a season, so we wanted to have a fast start against Jerome," Arden said. "We got the fast start and we were able to hold the momentum all the way through."
Scioto also avenged a 25-15, 17-25, 25-21 loss to Coffman in a quad-match March 30 at Pickerington North. The Irish played that match without setter/outside hitter Josh Ashwill, who was attending his sister's wedding, and setter/outside hitter Colin Pierce, who was recovering from mononucleosis.
"This is the first time we've had all of our starters healthy since early in the season and we're beginning to peak at the right time," Arden said. "We didn't want to give Coffman a chance to say they beat us twice in one season, so our guys were motivated. Josh and Colin jump-served well to put pressure on Coffman and we hit and blocked really well."
Scioto had a more difficult time beating Liberty the previous day.
"None of our guys has won an OCC title before, so they were a little hungrier to win our league than even the Battle of Dublin," Arden said. "Liberty gave us an outstanding match, probably the best senior night match I've been a part of.
"We kept the pressure on Liberty with our serving and, later in the match, we played faster and with more energy."
According to Arden, Ashwill, Pierce and middle hitters Michael Orender and Travis Wehder were the Irish's top hitters last week, libero Mason Matheny was their most consistent defensive player and opposite hitters Yoshi Akutsu and Noah Schuster led in blocking.
The Division I and II East Region tournament draws were held May 6, and Arden believes his team has the potential to make a long run in the Division II postseason tournament.
Last year, the third-seeded Irish reached a regional semifinal before losing to top-seeded Mount Vernon 25-18, 22-25, 25-16, 25-15.
"I like where we're at right now," Arden said. "The key to winning our region is to play with confidence and energy the whole match because we haven't always done that."
Celtics post first victory of season
After losing to Scioto in the Battle of Dublin, Jerome bounced back to defeat Coffman 25-18, 14-25, 25-12 in its second match in the event.
"This was our first win of the year and there's no better feeling than beating your rival on your home court," defensive specialist Tommy Scott said.
The Celtics had lost their first 17 matches before beating the Shamrocks. After the final point of the match, a couple Jerome players tossed chairs into the air and the entire team stormed the center of the court.
"The excitement of the moment was so intense. You just never know how you're going to react," defensive specialist Trent Jones said. "After we were annihilated by Scioto, we brought the heat and shocked the world."
According to coach Katherine Fogg, setters Mitch Hunt, Tommy Keller and Oakley Katterheinrich, middle hitter Peter Moseley and outside hitter Luke Neff have been the Celtics' most consistent players this season.
"We've struggled all season, so it was nice to get a victory right before the start of the (Division II East Region) tournament," Fogg said. "I hope we can go out with a bang and snag a few tournament wins because the boys are peaking right now."
Last year, the seventh-seeded Celtics lost to second-seeded Watterson 25-17, 25-12, 25-17 in their regional opener.
Shamrocks looking to bounce back
Coffman coach Mark Saelzler was disappointed with his team's performance in the Battle of Dublin.
"We had too many unforced errors, about 10 per game," Saelzler said. "We needed to have better mental focus. We have big hitters, but our sets were too low for our guys to finish plays. (Libero) Connor Patterson has been doing a great job for us all season, but his knee locked up in our (loss to Scioto) and we don't know when we'll have him back."
Saelzler is hoping the Shamrocks can bounce back in time for the Division I East Region tournament.
Last year, the 13th-seeded Shamrocks lost to sixth-seeded St. Charles 25-18, 25-14, 25-19 in their regional opener.
"When we serve tough, we can play with just about anyone," Saelzler said. "We'll need to do better on our serve-receive than we did against Jerome. ... We're excited about our setters' future, but (Michael Kim and Joel Sotos) will need to give our hitters higher sets in the tournament. (Middle hitter) Colin Hayes and (outside hitter) Trent Rantala have been our go-to guys all year and they will need to lead us in the tournament."