The fact that the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls volleyball team finished with a losing record in 2007, ending a streak of three consecutive winning seasons, may have served, at least in part, as motivation for this season.

The fact that the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls volleyball team finished with a losing record in 2007, ending a streak of three consecutive winning seasons, may have served, at least in part, as motivation for this season.

The Lions finished 18-6 overall and went 12-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division to place second behind Pickerington North (14-0) and ahead of Grove City (8-6), Lancaster (8-6), Newark (8-6), Groveport (3-11), Reynoldsburg (2-12) and Pickerington Central (1-13).

The season ended with a 25-15, 27-29, 25-14, 25-21 loss to fourth-seeded Watterson in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 22. The seventh-seeded Lions defeated Westerville South 25-18, 25-8, 25-12 on Oct. 14 and Hilliard Darby 25-15, 25-11, 25-20 on Oct. 18 in the first two rounds.

Last season, Gahanna finished 12-13 overall and fourth in the OCC-Ohio at 5-5.

"It's definitely a turnaround from last year," coach Scot Holmes said. "Finishing 18-6 is a good feeling. The way the girls played and stepped up when they needed to is a good feeling. They were out to prove that we play good volleyball here.

"They just wanted to have fun and do what they needed to do to get the job done."

"We had a great season, especially after last year," senior outside hitter Nicole Sackett said. "We knew we had to step up. This year we didn't have all the injuries that we had last year and we were a lot closer as a team. This year we wanted it more.

"We just worked really hard. We wanted to show that we were a strong team to be reckoned with."

Gahanna entered the season looking to capture its first OCC championship since 1988. The Lions would have achieved that goal if they had been able to find a way to beat Pickerington North in one of their two matches. The Lions lost 23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-20 on Sept. 4 and 22-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 on Sept. 30.

"We wish we could've finished in a tie with them, at least," Holmes said. "It's one of those would have, could have, should have things."

Gahanna loses six seniors in Sackett, Mary Kate Garvey (opposite hitter), Paula Lindsay (setter/outside hitter), Kelly O'Donovan (outside hitter), Emily Sheets (middle hitter) and Jendy Weppler (libero).

"It's a pretty large group and a talented group of girls," Holmes said. "Unfortunately, (losing players to graduation) is the nature of the beast. We'll move on. Next year we'll be talented, but we'll be very young. But I think the seniors showed the younger girls that the dedication needs to be there to be successful."

Expected to return are juniors Lauren Arnett (defensive specialist), Emily Barnett (defensive specialist), Lindsey Chiero (opposite hitter) and Kirsten Frissora (defensive specialist) and sophomores Abby Easton (setter) and Taylor Holly (middle hitter).

At a glance

•Record: 18-6 overall, 12-2 (second) in OCC-Ohio

•Seniors lost: Mary Kate Garvey, Paula Lindsay, Kelly O'Donovan, Nicole Sackett, Emily Sheets and Jendy Weppler

•Key returnees: Lauren Arnett, Abby Easton and Taylor Holly