Liberty season exceeded coach's expectations
Although the Olentangy Liberty High School girls volleyball team didn't capture OCC-Central Division or Division I district championships, coach Jen Chapman considers the season to be a success.
The Patriots finished 17-5 overall, losing to second-seeded Pickerington North 25-23, 25-17, 25-20 in a Division I district final Oct. 27 at Big Walnut.
"You always want to win more matches, but this team exceeded my expectations, and anytime you exceed your own expectations, you've had a good season," Chapman said.
Liberty finished second in the OCC-Central at 12-2, behind Dublin Coffman (14-0) and ahead of Hilliard Davidson (9-5), Thomas Worthington (8-6), Upper Arlington (6-8), Marysville (4-10), Westland (2-12) and Central Crossing (1-13).
The fourth-seeded Patriots opened the district tournament Oct. 17 at home with a 25-14, 25-20, 25-11 victory over Canal Winchester in the second round. Liberty also defeated eighth-seeded Newark 15-25, 25-17, 25-20, 24-26, 15-12 in a district semifinal Oct. 23 at Big Walnut.
Other highlights included winning the Wolves Invitational on Sept. 15 at Worthington Kilbourne and sweeping Davidson in league play, winning 25-17, 25-20, 29-27 on Sept. 11 and 23-25, 25-14, 25-18, 25-17 on Oct. 4.
"Winning the Worthington Kilbourne tournament for the third year in a row was a good accomplishment for us," Chapman said. "We did a good job in our league matches and beat a good team twice in Hilliard Davidson. Newark was a big win for us, too."
The Patriots lose six senior starters in outside hitter Stephanie Ruffing, libero Kenna Koehler, middle hitter Kayla Pfaff, setter Kelsi Robinson and defensive specialists Rosalyn Ransaw and Alex Silvestri.
Ruffing, a Wright State recruit, was first-team all-district and all-league.
Koehler was second-team all-district and all-league, and Pfaff was special mention all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Players who started multiple matches and are expected to return are sophomore middle hitter Brooke Knollman, freshman outside hitter Jessica Ruffing and junior setter Ellie Schramm.
Knollman was honorable mention all-league.
"Our seniors are a special group and they did a really good job and were fun to coach," Chapman said. "We have a good base of kids coming back and younger talent moving up, so I hope we can continue to be successful in the future."
Braves enjoyed strong season
Olentangy finished 19-6 overall, losing to fifth-seeded Hilliard Bradley 23-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-18 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 24 at Big Walnut.
Against Bradley, junior outside hitter Ganiru Anunike had 19 kills, senior outside hitter Kasia Walczak had nine kills and junior setter Sarah Arango had 26 assists and 11 digs.
"Bradley out-muscled us," coach Michelle Mimna said. "They were big in the middle and we could not stop their middles. They are the first team all year that we couldn't beat with our speed and balanced offense. They were the better team that night.
"We hurt ourselves against Bradley, too, missing 13 serves and totaling 17 serve-receive errors, which was very uncharacteristic of our team."
The Braves finished second in the OCC-Capital at 12-2, behind Big Walnut (13-1) and ahead of Mount Vernon (11-3), New Albany (7-7), Delaware (6-8), Olentangy Orange (5-9), Watkins Memorial (2-12) and Franklin Heights (0-14).
Olentangy opened the district tournament Oct. 15 at home with a 25-10, 25-14, 23-25, 25-17 victory over Teays Valley. The seventh-seeded Braves then defeated Westerville North 11-25, 25-22, 25-20, 28-26 in the second round Oct. 17 at home.
"For the season, it was certainly an exciting one," Mimna said. "We were thrilled with our record, but disappointed we couldn't get to 20 wins. We wanted to win at least a share of the OCC title, too, but many of our team goals we came up just short. It has been almost 15 years, however -- excluding the 2008 team that went 24-3 -- since an Olentangy volleyball team has won 19 matches, so the girls know they did something special there."
The Braves lose five seniors in setter Courtney Kerin, opposite hitter Morgan Reed, defensive specialist Jamie Riley, setter Kelsey Rose and Walczak.
Rose, who had 443 digs, was first-team all-league and Walczak, who had 229 kills, was second-team all-league.
Key players expected to return include Anunike, Arango, junior middle hitter Kaitlyn Kelley, sophomore defensive specialist Makayla Kochheiser and freshmen Lauren Douglas (setter), Maddie Griffin (opposite hitter) and Lauren Judge (middle hitter).
Anunike, who had 276 kills, was first-team all-league and all-district. Arango, who had 727 assists, was honorable mention all-league and all-district.
"We lose quite a bit of talent in the senior class but welcome back a wealth of talent in the younger classes," Mimna said. "So while we will miss the power and consistency of Walczak and Rose and the welcome leadership of Riley and Reed in the senior class, we are looking ahead to 2013 for an even more serious run at the OCC title."
Pioneers experience rebuilding season
Orange opened the Division I district tournament Oct. 15 with a 25-15, 26-24, 25-6 loss at 12th-seeded Mount Vernon.
"Our loss to Mount Vernon was frustrating because we were so close to winning that second game," said coach Jessica Timmons, who squad finished 7-12 overall and sixth in the OCC-Capital. "That second game was a true demonstration of what our kids were capable of. ... It was frustrating that it took us that long to get to that point.
"In the end, youth raised its ugly head and our lack of experience in pulling through in tight or tough matches showed."
The Pioneers lose four seniors in setter Tyler Folds and defensive specialists Madison Linek, Alissa Morrisson and Mackenzie Boland.
Folds had 224 assists.
Expected to return are junior outside hitter Abigail Fordham, junior middle hitter Mackenzie Gossard, junior opposite hitter Emylee Beougher, sophomores Kyle Davidson (opposite hitter), Amelia Dewey (setter), Zahara Harrison (middle hitter) and Kerstin Vojacek (libero) and freshman outside hitter Jordan Gels.
Fordham, who had 161 kills, 217 digs and 29 aces, was honorable mention all-league.
Gels had 158 kills, Gossard had 35 solo blocks and 29 aces and Harris had 36 solo blocks. Gels and Gossard were second-team all-league.
"We're graduating four seniors this year, leaving us with eight returning players," Timmons said. "The key players will be our seniors next year -- Fordham, Gossard and Beougher -- all three of which have extensive experience with playing club ball in the offseason and with being big contributors to the high school team this year."