When the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls volleyball team won a Division I district title in 2006, its first in 26 years, coach Scot Holmes was serving as the program's freshman coach.
Holmes, who is resigning at season's end after taking over the program in 2007, moved his team a step closer to another district title with a 25-20, 25-17, 14-25, 25-11 win over two-time defending district champion Watterson on Oct. 18.
The Lions play Chillicothe in a district semifinal Thursday, Oct. 25, at Big Walnut, with the winner to face Westerville Central or Grove City in a district final at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Big Walnut.
"With Watterson, you always know you'll have a good, competitive match," Holmes said. "They're a great group of girls. We basically focused on our side of the court and our goal was to speed things up with our offense."
Gahanna is 16-6 overall, with one of its losses coming to Watterson 25-20, 25-19 on Sept. 15. The Lions are seeded sixth for the district tournament, while Watterson was seeded 15th.
"We actually lost to them early in the season, so it felt really good to come out and beat them," senior setter Stacie Baumann said. "It was kind of a revenge match. We were really into it and wanted to win. We ran a faster offense and we blocked out a lot better."
Chillicothe is seeded 14th and is 20-5. It defeated ninth-seeded Hilliard Davidson 22-25, 18-25, 25-21, 26-24, 15-12 in a second-round match Oct. 18.
"This is a group of girls I'm really proud of," Holmes said. "We got a solid second place in the (OCC-Ohio Division) and started moving ahead to the tournament. Westerville Central and Grove City are two strong teams (that we could play in a district final)."
Girls tennis coach 'happy' with season
The girls tennis team loses six seniors in Kiara Shaw, Cara Monico, Morrissa Cohen, Anna McCloud, Hannah Sobul and Guhi Gupta after going 9-9 overall and finishing second in the OCC-Ohio.
"I thought we had a lot of girls step up," fifth-year coach Chris Schwinnen said. "Our senior leadership went well beyond what we could have asked for and we went 9-9 against a tough schedule, so I was happy with our season."
In the league tournament Sept. 29 at Reynoldsburg, the Lions placed third (15 points) behind Pickerington Central (35) and the host Raiders (16).
Junior Emily Merickel placed second in second singles, Shaw was third in first singles, sophomore Kathryn Lee placed third in third singles and Monico and McCloud were third in second doubles.
Gahanna finished second overall in the league with 45 points and a 5-2 record, behind Pickerington Central (77, 7-0). Pickerington North also went 5-2 but with 42 points, followed by Reynoldsburg (40, 4-3), Lancaster (34, 4-3), Grove City (17, 2-5), Newark (5, 1-6) and Groveport (4, 0-7).
In the sectional Oct. 4 and 6 at Upper Arlington, Merickel and sophomore Elizabeth Sullivan placed fourth in doubles to advance to district. They then lost to Dublin Jerome's Caitlyn Merzbacher and Eleanor Bullock 6-0, 6-0 in their district opener Oct. 12 at Davidson.
Also competing at sectional but failing to advance were Shaw, Sobul and junior Riley Crowe in singles and the doubles team of Monico and McCloud.
Junior Rachel Zink, who teamed with Merickel to advance to district in doubles a year ago, missed the season with a knee injury.
"They had all of the intangibles to make for a fun, great experience," Schwinnen said. "I think we've got a lot of players back to build on for the future."