Olentangy Liberty High School boys volleyball coach Dave Hale could have blamed his team's 25-13, 25-12, 25-15 loss to Mount Vernon on the key injuries that the Patriots suffered during the Division I regional semifinal May 19 at Gahanna.

Olentangy Liberty High School boys volleyball coach Dave Hale could have blamed his team's 25-13, 25-12, 25-15 loss to Mount Vernon on the key injuries that the Patriots suffered during the Division I regional semifinal May 19 at Gahanna.

After all, Liberty's top setter, Brandon Kready (back injury), and top libero, Nick Pecikonis (thumb injury), both couldn't compete in the third set.

But that wasn't the case.

"We played hard and competed with Mount Vernon, but they were the better team," Hale said. "Their setter (Carter Cassell) is one of the best in the state and he made the difference for them. We had a hard time getting to our blocks because he moved the ball so quickly, and he hurt us with his hitting and jump-serving, too."

The Patriots tied Dublin Jerome for fourth in the OCC-Cardinal Division at 4-6, behind Westerville North (8-2) and Dublin Scioto and Westerville Central (7-3) and ahead of Westerville South (0-10).

Liberty picked up its most exciting win of the season May 4, beating Jerome on the road 24-26, 23-25, 25-20, 25-20, 18-16, after falling behind 8-3 in the fifth set.

The Patriots also beat Delaware 23-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-16, 15-3 in their tournament opener May 15 at Gahanna.

But Kready said his squad's best effort was a 25-11, 18-25, 25-23 loss to Stow-Munroe Falls on April 16.

"Beating Dublin Jerome was a lot of fun, but we played our best match of the season against Stow and almost beat a great team," Kready said.

Liberty will lose four seniors - outside hitter Aaron Capretta, defensive specialist Wes Hall, Pecikonis and outside hitter T.J. Wagner - who started multiple matches.

Capretta had 115 kills and 82 digs and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-region. Hall had 52 assists and was honorable mention all-league, and Pecikonis finished with 64 digs.

Patriots who started or played a lot of varsity minutes and are expected to return are juniors Stephen Berman (opposite hitter) and Kready and sophomores Nick Archer (middle hitter), Alec Charbonneau (outside hitter/setter), Phillip Cheesman (setter/outside hitter), Tyler Shirey (middle hitter) and Mitch Taylor (outside hitter).

Kready had 159 assists and Shirey had 79 blocks. Both were second-team all-league.

Archer had 102 kills and 67 blocks, Charbonneau had 72 assists and 42 kills and Cheesman had 66 kills and 47 assists.

"We have quite a bit of younger players, who gained a lot of experience this season, coming back, so I'm excited about the future of our team," Hale said.

Hale was expected to be named the head coach of Jerome's boys basketball team, pending school board approval last Monday, but he will continue to teach math at Liberty.

"We'll have to see how things go, but I hope I can continue to coach volleyball at Liberty as well," said Hale, who led the Patriots to a 48-67 record during their first six years of varsity existence. "Right now, my plan is to return next spring."

At a glance

•Record: 7-13 overall, 4-6 (tied for fourth) in OCC-Cardinal

•Seniors lost: Aaron Capretta, Wes Hall, Nick Pecikonis and T.J. Wagner

•Key returnees: Nick Archer, Alec Charbonneau, Phillip Cheesman, Brandon Kready and Tyler Shirey