Olentangy High School boys volleyball coach Travis Weitthoff doesn't believe his team's record tells the whole story.
The Braves, who are in their first season, were 6-9 overall and 3-5 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Delaware on April 30.
"Our record is deceptive because we've played a lot of good teams and we've been competitive in every match," Weitthoff said. "We're getting compliments from other coaches and officials telling us that we're the best first-year program that they've ever seen. We're playing good volleyball and we're way ahead of what people had in mind when they heard we were a first-year varsity team."
Olentangy lost to Westerville North in five games on April 5, falling 23-25, 26-24, 25-12, 20-25, 15-12, and came up short against Upper Arlington in a best-of-three match April 20, losing 21-25, 25-20, 25-23.
The Braves also was competitive in two league matches against Gahanna, which was ranked fourth in the East Region last week. The Lions won 25-20, 25-15, 23-25, 25-12 on April 9 and 25-11, 23-25, 25-18, 25-14 on April 25, with the latter match raising their record to 10-6.
Entering play this week, Olentangy had won two five-game matches, beating Westerville South 25-22, 25-17, 17-25, 18-25, 15-13 on April 12 and Delaware 25-18, 21-25, 17-25, 27-25, 15-9 on April 11 in a league contest.
"We've beaten a couple of established programs at home in five games and we've looked good in some of our losses, too," Weitthoff said. "We've won a game off Gahanna both times we played them and they are one of the best teams in the state. Our guys have only played this game for one or two months and they're hanging with guys who have played volleyball for several years."
According to Weitthoff, outside hitter Joe Morycz and libero Adam Green (libero) have been leading the way for the Braves.
"Joe's our team captain who plays all-around and sets the tone with his monster hits and great tips," Weitthoff said. "Joe passes well, too. He can do it all. It takes a long time to learn the art of passing, but Adam has picked it up quickly and he does a great job with the speed and angles of his passes."
Weitthoff also has been pleased with the play of middle hitters Andrew Horstman and Taylor Jahr, outside hitters Justin Moeller and Nathan Neilson and setters Austin Bruening and Erik Brandt.
"Our blocking has been absolutely fantastic and our setters are setting up a lot of different guys to hit the ball well," Weitthoff said.
Olentangy has three regular-season matches remaining. It will play Tuesday, May 7, at Dublin Coffman and May 9 at Thomas Worthington before playing host to Westerville Central on May 10.
"We need to work on controlling our emotions when things don't go our way," Weitthoff said. "Sometimes our guys can get frustrated with themselves and lose their focus. But the good thing is none of our guys ever get mad at their teammates. Our teamwork has been very good overall."
Patriots faring well despite inexperience
Liberty won six of its first eight matches despite having only one experienced player in outside hitter Tyler Menges.
"We've got a much smaller, less-experienced lineup this year, but we've been able to (score on) a lot of scramble plays by putting the ball where people aren't," coach Dave Hale said. "I've been most pleased with our setters, Tyler Kready and Tommy Fallon, because neither of them set varsity last year. Matt Nakasian (outside hitter) and Tyler Menges have hit the ball real well, too."
After starting 6-2, Liberty lost its next three matches, falling to Mason 25-21, 25-21, 25-23 on April 20, Westerville Central 25-22, 19-25, 25-23, 25-23 in an OCC-Cardinal match April 23 and Worthington Kilbourne 25-10, 25-20, 25-23 in a league match April 25.
The Patriots were missing key players from their lineup in those losses. Starting middle hitter Chadd Taura missed the match against Mason because he was making a college visit, Menges missed the matches against Central and Kilbourne because he was out of town on a school trip and outside hitter Nakasian missed the match against Central and was not at full strength against Kilbourne because of illness.
"I'm pleased with how we've done overall, but we've hit a rough spell with some of our players out of the lineup," Hale said. "We've learned that we need to improve our communication, because when we need to adjust our lineup like we have the past three matches, it's important that our guys communicate with the people they aren't used to working with."
Liberty travels to Dublin Scioto on Thursday, May 2, for an OCC-Cardinal match. The Patriots lost to the Irish 16-25, 25-19, 25-15, 19-25, 15-10 on April 10.
"It would be huge if we can turn the tables on Dublin Scioto this time around," Hale said. "Better communication is the key for us this week."