Gahanna Lincoln High School girls volleyball coach Scot Holmes knows from experience exactly how important chemistry can be for a team.

Gahanna Lincoln High School girls volleyball coach Scot Holmes knows from experience exactly how important chemistry can be for a team.

Therefore, Holmes said he feels optimistic about the Lions' chances of putting together a successful season, given how well his players get along both on and off the court.

Gahanna finished 10-12 overall last year after losing to 12th-seeded Westerville Central 25-21, 25-20, 25-12 in the first round of the Division I district tournament. The Lions went 8-6 in the OCC-Ohio Division to place fourth, behind Pickerington North (14-0), Grove City (11-3) and Newark (10-4) and ahead of Lancaster (7-7), Pickerington Central (4-10), Reynoldsburg (2-12) and Groveport (0-14).

The Lions, who opened with an OCC-Ohio match against Newark on Aug. 30, will play host to Lancaster in a league match on Thursday, Sept. 1.

"This is the strongest team chemistry that we've had in years," said Holmes, who is in his sixth season with the Lions. "This is a clique-free team. Everybody is accepting of everybody and that's helped the girls to work well together on the court. The girls have worked hard to stay a drama-free team by having sleepovers and doing things together off the court, and that's made them work harder in practice because they want to do well for their teammates, not just themselves."

Serving as team captains are seniors Ashley Koons (middle hitter), Alyssa Rapelje (defensive specialist), Morgan Sheets (defensive specialist/outside hitter) and Emily Watson (setter).

Rounding out the roster are juniors Stacie Baumann (opposite hitter/setter), Beth Coccia (defensive specialist), Lindsay McIlwain (opposite hitter), Tayla Means (opposite hitter), Casey Mers (defensive specialist), Becca Scowden (middle hitter) and Kelly Shannon (middle hitter), and sophomore Kailyn McComb (outside hitter).

"We have good leaders all the way around and this is the best depth that we've ever had," Holmes said.

Last year, the Lions won only five of their first 14 matches but bounced back to win five of their final seven regular-season matches before losing to Westerville Central.

"Our conference is going to be anyone's game this year," Holmes said. "Pickerington North and Newark are good, but the rest of us are coming up strong and we're all going to be in the hunt for our conference title. We went to the regional final in 2006 and this team reminds me of that team when it comes to our work ethic."