Olentangy Liberty High School boys volleyball coach Dave Hale was missing nearly half of his roster for the first two weeks of spring practice, but he's turning that negative into a positive.

Olentangy Liberty High School boys volleyball coach Dave Hale was missing nearly half of his roster for the first two weeks of spring practice, but he's turning that negative into a positive.

While seniors Nick Archer (6-foot-8 middle hitter), Alec Charbonneau (6-6 opposite hitter/setter), Phillip Cheesman (6-4 outside hitter) and Tyler Shirey (6-8 middle hitter) were still playing with the boys basketball team, the Patriots' other five varsity volleyball players practiced with Liberty's junior varsity A squad.

"We weren't able to practice together as a team the first two weeks and (this) week is our spring break, so we're far behind schedule," said Hale, who is entering his eighth season. "But I believe that winning breeds more winning and I'm hoping that our four basketball players will continue to be that competitive when they arrive here. Their absence also has given me an opportunity to work more closely with our less-experienced guys who have never played volleyball before, and that should help us out in the next year or two."

The boys basketball team advanced to a Division I regional semifinal, where it lost to Pickerington Central 60-58 on March 15.

The volleyball team finished 11-5 overall last season, losing to Dublin Coffman 23-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-19 in its Division I East Region tournament opener.

The Patriots opened March 27 with an OCC-Cardinal Division match against Dublin Scioto.

Six players who started multiple matches last season have returned in Archer, Charbonneau, Cheesman, Shirey and seniors Adam Pickard (libero) and Chase Wagner (6-2 opposite hitter).

Archer was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-region, Shirey was second-team all-league and Charbonneau was honorable mention all-league.

Hale was the OCC-Cardinal Coach of the Year.

Junior Tyler Kready and sophomore Tommy Fallon are vying to start at Liberty's second setter position.

Rounding out the roster is 6-3 sophomore outside hitter Tyler Menges.

"We do have an experienced group, so we hope to get stronger as the season goes on," Hale said. "I would think we have one of the biggest teams in the area. Alec has set before, so we're looking for one other guy to step up and help us run a 6-2 offense."

Last year, the Patriots finished second in the OCC-Cardinal at 8-2, behind Westerville North (10-0) and ahead of Westerville Central (6-4), Westerville South (3-7), Scioto (2-8) and Dublin Jerome (1-9).

"I have no clue where our top competition is going to come from," Hale said. "We've got the tallest team and good experience back, but we haven't had a (full) varsity practice yet, so it's hard to tell who the favorite is."