After a 25-17, 10-25, 25-19, 26-24 loss to eighth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in the first round of the Division I district tournament on Oct. 20, coach Josh Lee said the end came too quickly for the New Albany High School girls volleyball team.

After a 25-17, 10-25, 25-19, 26-24 loss to eighth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in the first round of the Division I district tournament on Oct. 20, coach Josh Lee said the end came too quickly for the New Albany High School girls volleyball team.

"Usually after a match, especially a loss, the girls get off the bus and scatter like mice when the light comes on," said Lee, whose team finished 17-5 overall. "After our loss to Kilbourne, the girls just hung out, talking and hugging. To me, that's what sports are all about."

"It was very emotional," senior setter Kelsey Rowley said. "It was one of the toughest things knowing that we wouldn't play together again. All of us seniors were in tears."

The loss ended a breakthrough season. The 17 victories were the most in program history.

New Albany came into the match having won 10 of 11, but Lee said the team couldn't put away the Wolves.

"Kilbourne has a lot of weapons offensively and they kept a lot of pressure on us," Lee said. "That just kept us just enough off our game. In that fourth game we matched them point for point."

New Albany finished second in the OCC-Capital Division with a 12-2 record, losing to league champion Big Walnut (14-0) 25-17, 25-19, 25-9 on Sept. 14 and 25-19, 25-17, 25-22 on Oct. 7. Hilliard Bradley (10-4), Olentangy Orange (7-7), Mount Vernon (6-8), Delaware (5-9), Franklin Heights (1-13) and Watkins Memorial (1-13) rounded out the standings.

"We came a long way," Rowley said. "Not a whole lot of people thought we could have a great season. but we improved all season."

To build on what they accomplished this season, the Eagles must replace seniors Elyse Naddaff (middle hitter), Madi Miller (libero), Abby Mackey (setter/outside hitter), Rowley (setter) and Karli Shill (outside hitter). Miller led the team in serving aces (40) and digs (210) while Naddaff led the team in blocks (51) and Rowley was first in assists (327).

Lee said the seniors' value went far behind their statistics.

"The seniors were responsible for bringing this group together," Lee said. "They had big expectations for this season but at the same time, they created a very welcoming environment."

Lee said junior outside hitter Allison Largent, a transfer from Avon Lake, will play a big role in bringing the team together next year. Largent led the team in kills this season with 216. The team also returns sophomores Sammi Fitz (outside hitter) and Emily Rolwing (middle blocker) and freshman Kaleigh Morlan (middle blocker.

"Every single one of the players had a key role this year. It was like putting together a piece of a puzzle," Lee said. "We have a young group coming back, but they're very skilled. I'm hoping they can build on the lessons they learned this year."

At a glance

Below are the recent results for New Albany girls volleyball team:

*Sept. 21 - Defeated Mount Vernon 25-23, 25-18, 25-18

*Sept. 23 - Def. Hilliard Bradley 15-25, 25-22, 25-21, 21-25, 15-6

Sept. 25 - Def. Olentangy 25-15, 27-25, 25-19

*Sept. 28 - Def. Watkins Memorial 25-16, 25-19, 25-19

Sept. 29 - Def. Northland 25-16, 25-19, 25-19

*Sept. 30 - Def. Olentangy Orange 17-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-20

*Oct. 5 - Def. Franklin Heights 25-20, 25-8, 25-21

*Oct. 7 - Lost to Big Walnut 25-19, 25-17, 25-22

Oct. 9 - Def. Westland 25-16, 25-16, 25-23

*Oct. 12 - Def. Delaware 25-18, 25-21, 25-15

*Oct. 14 - Def. Mount Vernon 25-18, 25-13, 25-22

Oct. 20 - Lost to Worthington Kilbourne 25-17, 10-25, 25-19, 26-24 in first round of Division I district tournament

Of note: The Eagles finished 17-5 overall and 12-2 (second) in OCC-Capital.

*OCC-Capital match