The Olentangy Liberty High School boys volleyball team was without 6-foot-8 senior middle hitter Nick Archer for seven matches, including its last four league contests and its postseason opener after he sprained his right ankle April 21 while playing basketball.

The Olentangy Liberty High School boys volleyball team was without 6-foot-8 senior middle hitter Nick Archer for seven matches, including its last four league contests and its postseason opener after he sprained his right ankle April 21 while playing basketball.

The Patriots also didn't participate in any preseason scrimmages or practice until the day before the season because four starters were playing for the boys basketball team, which advanced to a Division I regional semifinal.

Those obstacles turned out to be speed bumps rather than roadblocks for Liberty, which went 17-4 overall and won the OCC-Cardinal Division at 10-0.

The Patriots set team records for wins, aces (166), digs (763) and kills (713).

"I knew we were going to have a size advantage on most teams, but I wasn't sure what kind of season we were going to have because we had a late start and then we lost one of our best players for a significant amount of matches," eighth-year coach Dave Hale said. "You always aspire to have a season like this and it was all the more satisfying that we had our best season this year, considering the hurdles that we had to overcome."

The Patriots had several quality victories during the regular season, including 23-25, 25-23, 25-23 over Mount Vernon on April 21 at home and 25-27, 25-21, 25-19, 24-26, 15-9 over Westerville North on April 26 at home.

Mount Vernon went on to win the Division II East Region title.

Westerville North was the defending OCC-Cardinal champion, and that contest was Liberty's first without Archer.

Liberty captured its first OCC-Cardinal title since 2009 and won a league championship outright for the first time. Westerville North tied Dublin Scioto for second at 7-3, followed by Dublin Jerome (3-7), Westerville South (3-7) and Westerville Central (0-10).

The fifth-seeded Patriots won their Division I East Region tournament opener May 12 at Watterson, defeating 14th-seeded Westerville Central 25-11, 25-15, 25-14. They defeated seventh-seeded Westerville North 25-21, 25-19, 25-16 in a semifinal May 16 at Delaware, but lost to top-seeded Hilliard Darby 25-23, 25-16, 25-17 in a final May 19 at Gahanna.

"I really enjoyed our three Westerville North matches because they were very competitive and a lot was on the line in each of them," Hale said. "This is the first time we've won our league title outright and this is the furthest we've ever advanced in the regional tournament, so I'm proud of the way our guys stepped up."

The Patriots lose seven senior starters in Archer, Alec Charbonneau (6-6 opposite hitter/setter), Phillip Cheesman (6-4 outside hitter), Adam Pickard (libero), Josh Pollner (6-8 middle hitter), Tyler Shirey (6-8 middle hitter) and Chase Wagner (6-2 opposite hitter).

Charbonneau set season records in aces (49) and assists (474) and was honorable mention all-state, first-team all-region and the OCC-Cardinal Player of the Year. He is Liberty's career leader in aces (93) and assists (760).

Archer had 119 kills and 56 blocks in 14 matches and was first-team all-league and second-team all-region. He is Liberty's career leader in kills (364).

Cheesman had 167 kills, 148 digs and 23 aces. He was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-region.

Shirey had 62 blocks and was honorable mention all-league. He is Liberty's career leader in blocks (210).

Pickard had 164 digs and is Liberty's career leader in digs (257).

Sophomore outside hitter Tyler Menges is expected to be the lone returning starter. He had a team record 181 digs, 35 aces and 167 kills, and was special mention all-league and honorable mention all-region.

Junior Tyler Kready (setter/outside hitter) and sophomore Tommy Fallon (setter) also saw varsity action.

"Our seniors did a great job of leading us to a record-breaking season," said Hale, who was OCC-Cardinal Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season. "We'll be much smaller next year, but we've got a good athlete to build around in Tyler Menges."