Sophomore Kayla Morlan knows the New Albany High School girls volleyball team didn't make a strong impression during the first round of OCC-Capital Division play.

Sophomore Kayla Morlan knows the New Albany High School girls volleyball team didn't make a strong impression during the first round of OCC-Capital Division play.

But the 5-foot-10 middle hitter hopes that changes as New Albany goes through the league a second time. The Eagles opened the second round with a 25-19, 25-19, 25-11 loss to Hilliard Bradley on Sept. 22.

"Right now, we're trying to improve," said Morlan, whose team was 5-8 overall and 2-6 in the OCC-Capital before playing Watkins Memorial on Sept. 27. "I'm really looking forward to playing some of these teams again. We haven't won a lot of matches so far, but I think we're going to win a lot more matches in the second round."

Coach Karen Morlan, Kayla's mother, hopes her team remains at full strength as it plays host to Olentangy Orange on Thursday, Sept. 29, visits Franklin Heights on Tuesday, Oct. 4, and welcomes defending league champion Big Walnut on Oct. 6.

New Albany was without sophomore setter Erica Wisniewski for part of the season after she sustained a concussion in a 25-12, 25-17, 25-19 win over Franklin Heights on Sept. 8.

Wisniewski sat out a 25-21, 25-15 loss to Thomas Worthington and a 25-22, 25-18 win over Groveport on Sept. 10, and a 19-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-20 loss to Big Walnut on Sept. 13. In her absence, junior middle hitter Emily Rolwing and senior outside hitter Allison Largent shared the setting duties.

"We played fairly well for the lineup that we had. The girls played hard and tried to adjust the best we could," coach Morlan said. "Any time you miss one player, it makes a difference in the way you play. We did the best we could with the players we had."

"It was hard, but we were able to work together without (Wisniewski)," Kayla Morlan. "I think we were able to do OK."

With Wisniewski back, Largent can concentrate on what she does best. The senior leads the team with 100 kills.

Kayla Morlan is second with 67 kills and leads the team with 37 blocks, while junior Ashley Anders has 25 blocks.

"We're definitely stronger when we have our normal setter and our hitters can do their job," coach Morlan said.

"Our defense is improving. Our sets are becoming more consistent. And because our sets are more consistent, the hitters are starting to produce a little more."

The Eagles hope they can have an impact on the OCC-Capital race. Entering this week, Bradley, Mount Vernon and Big Walnut were tied for first at 7-1.

Mount Vernon defeated Big Walnut 25-21, 25-23, 25-23 on Sept. 15, snapping the Golden Eagles' 43-match winning streak in league play. Big Walnut's previous league loss was 26-24, 25-12, 25-23 to New Albany on Oct. 11, 2007.

Five days after the upset, New Albany pushed Mount Vernon before losing 18-25, 25-10, 21-25, 25-18, 15-12 on Sept. 20.

"Right now, I would say there are four or five teams in our league that are pretty even. On any given night, anyone can beat anyone," coach Morlan said. "We've had a lot of close games in the first round, so we're hoping we can pull out some wins in the second round."