Members of the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls volleyball team aren't dwelling on the fact that last season was the program's first losing season in four years and one of only two losing seasons this decade.

Members of the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls volleyball team aren't dwelling on the fact that last season was the program's first losing season in four years and one of only two losing seasons this decade.

According to second-year coach Scot Holmes, the players are focused on this season, not what happened last year when Gahanna finished 12-13 overall and 5-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division to place fourth behind Lancaster (9-1), Newark (8-2) and Hilliard Darby (6-4) and ahead of Groveport (1-9) and Westland (1-9).

The Lions lost to top-seeded Dublin Coffman 25-20, 25-23, 25-16 in a Division I district semifinal after defeating 10th-seeded Marysville 25-11, 25-20, 25-21 in the first round and Upper Arlington 25-16, 25-3, 25-19 in the second.

"I'm excited and the girls are excited about the season," said Holmes, whose team opened last Tuesday with an OCC-Ohio match against Newark and travels to Lancaster today for another league match. "What they decided is that the past is in the past. They're not worrying about last year, just going out and doing what they know how to do. They realize that every year is a different year. Their thinking is, 'We want to play for us, play for the school and play the best that we can.' That's their drive."

Gahanna returns eight letterwinners in seniors Mary Kate Garvey (opposite hitter), Paula Lindsay (setter), Kelly O'Donovan (outside hitter), Nicole Sackett (outside hitter), Emily Sheets (middle hitter) and Jendy Weppler (libero), junior Lauren Arnett (defensive specialist) and sophomore Abby Easton (setter).

Weppler was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district last season and Easton made second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

Also on the team are juniors Emily Barnett (defensive specialist), Lindsey Chiero (opposite hitter) and Kirsten Frissora (defensive specialist) and sophomore Taylor Holly (middle hitter).

"The biggest difference I see from last year is the experience that they're bringing back," Holmes said of his returnees. "They're very close with each other. It's almost like a sisterhood. They've played middle school and club together. They know each other's moves, they know what each other is thinking."

That experience should help, as would staying healthy. Injuries hindered the Lions last season. Among the players who missed significant playing time a year ago because of injury were Lindsay (knee), Sackett (knee) and O'Donovan (ankle). Sackett, who was sidelined with a strained posterior cruciate ligament in her right knee, sat out the longest, missing 15 matches.

If Gahanna stays healthy, Holmes believes his team could be a contender for the OCC-Ohio championship. Darby and Westland moved out of the league and Grove City, Pickerington Central, Pickerington North and Reynoldsburg moved in.

The Lions, who have not won an OCC title since 1988, have league matches Tuesday at Central and Sept. 4 at North.

"(The players are) eyeing the conference championship, but they know they have to take it one game at a time before they can win the conference," Holmes said. "I think our conference has gotten a little weaker. That just gives us a little more desire to perform at the highest level that we can."

At a glance

•Coach: Scot Holmes, second season

•Next match: Today at Lancaster

•Key players: Abby Easton, Paula Lindsay, Nicole Sackett, Emily Sheets and Jendy Weppler