Olentangy Liberty High School boys volleyball coach Dave Hale believes his program made significant progress.

Olentangy Liberty High School boys volleyball coach Dave Hale believes his program made significant progress.

The Patriots finished 10-11 overall after losing to top-seeded Hilliard Darby 25-14, 25-17, 25-8 in a Division I district semifinal May 21. It was their best season since gaining varsity status in 2005, having gone 3-11 in 2005, 6-12 in 2006 and 5-12 last season.

"I was tremendously pleased with the season," Hale said. "(Six) wins had been the most we've had in a season. That says a lot about where we're going as a program and what the guys were able to accomplish this year."

Liberty won five of its last eight matches, including 24-26, 25-19, 25-16, 26-24 over Thomas Worthington in the first round May 17. Despite losing in three games to Darby, Hale was pleased with his team's performance.

"(Darby) was the No. 1 team in the region, but our guys didn't back down against them," he said. "We were competitive against them."

Darby was ranked fourth in the final state poll behind Cincinnati Elder, Cincinnati St. Xavier and Cincinnati Moeller.

"We gave them a good run for it," junior outside-hitter Cody Persinger said.

Liberty had its best showing in the OCC-Capital Division since beginning league play in 2006. The Patriots went 4-6 to place fourth behind Mount Vernon (10-0), Dublin Jerome (8-2) and Westerville Central (5-5) and ahead of Pickerington Central (3-7) and Delaware (0-10). They finished 2-6 in the OCC-Capital in 2007 and 1-7 in 2006.

"At the beginning I wasn't sure what to expect because we were coming off a season where we graduated all but two off of our varsity team," Hale said, referring to the fact that his team returned only two letterwinners from a year ago in senior libero Josh Dixon and senior outside-hitter Josh Seymour. "I knew what we'd get from the two guys we had back, but I guess it was somewhat of a surprise to see the other players improve as quickly as they did. That was a pleasant surprise."

Liberty will lose five seniors in Dixon, Seymour, outside-hitter Tyler Hartshorn, middle-hitter Nick Jervey and setter Matt Larsen. Seymour was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-region and Dixon made honorable mention all-league.

Expected to return are Persinger, juniors Tyler Conard (middle hitter) and Mike Hilty (outside hitter/middle hitter) and sophomores Gentry Alverson (setter), Aaron Capretta (backrow specialist/outside hitter), Joe Kon (libero) and Matt Napier (middle hitter).

Persinger made second-team all-league.

"I think the guys are starting to develop a passion for the sport," Hale said. "They can see where we're going, what's ahead. I told them that I want them to put even more effort (in the offseason) into improving their individual skills so that we can improve even more as a team next year. This was a great year as far as how much we improved. Next year we want to (continue) that improvement."
"Although we're losing five seniors, we have a lot of young guys coming up," Persinger said. "We have a bright future."