The Worthington Kilbourne High School boys volleyball teams have been known to be fundamentally sound in producing OCC championships and regional titles in years past.

The Worthington Kilbourne High School boys volleyball teams have been known to be fundamentally sound in producing OCC championships and regional titles in years past.

This season, coach Dickson Loa can point to a glaring statistic.

"You look at the points we've given up, and 80-85 percent of them are unforced errors at our end," he said. "We didn't have a lot of experience headed into the season after losing 80 percent of our offense, but these are things we can control."

With those mistakes, the Wolves were 5-9 overall and 2-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Thomas Worthington last Tuesday.

A 25-21, 24-26, 25-13, 25-16 victory over Westerville Central last Saturday ended a four-match losing streak as Kilbourne prepared to take on league-leader Hilliard Darby today. The Panthers were 6-0 in the division before last Tuesday.

After that, the schedule doesn't get any easier with Stow-Munroe Falls and Cincinnati Elder, the top-ranked team in the April 19 Division I poll, coming to Worthington on Saturday.

"We've faced a lot of adversity this year, but we still have our head screwed on straight," senior outside hitter Colin Hackworth said. "We've had a lot of injuries and illness, including myself, but players have been stepping up."

While an OCC championship is likely out of reach, the Wolves intend to have a good showing in the postseason. The program has won seven regional titles in 18 seasons under former coach Glynda Rice.

Kilbourne fell to Darby in a Division I regional final a year ago after sharing the league title with the Panthers.

Darby, Hilliard Davidson and Mount Vernon should earn the top seeds in the regional tournament. Mount Vernon was ranked fourth in the April 19 state poll followed by Darby (ninth) and Davidson (10th).

"I know with us losing a lot of players last year, people are down on us," Loa said. "But maybe teams will look past us. We went into the season without a lot of experience. We have two starters who are playing their second year of volleyball."

Hackworth (6-foot-8), who Loa considers one of the best players in the state, will play next season at Lindenwood University in Missouri, one of the top NAIA programs.

He was out of the lineup last week when the Wolves dropped matches to Davidson (21-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-16) and Upper Arlington (25-12, 22-25, 25-18, 25-22).

"He has to carry us," Loa said. "He's a kid with a wealth of experience and you can tell when he's not out there. For us, it's just about building the experience around him and we've got to be able to deal with the pressure."

Loa also has been impressed by junior setter Jake Wood, who moved into the position this season.

Kilbourne's challenging schedule continues with games against visiting Mount Vernon on May 8 following its league contest with Davidson on May 6.

"Our coach has talked about starting a new slate and picking up the intensity in practice this week," Hackworth said.

"We've been lackadaisical and, hopefully, as we work harder in practice it will show up on the court."

Kilbourne's Danny Zellar taps the ball over the net during a 25-12, 22-25, 25-18, 25-22 loss to Upper Arlington on April 22.

The Wolves' Tim Wilson goes up for a spike against UA's Cody Palmer (left) and Andrew Caine.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Kilbourne and Thomas boys volleyball teams:

THOMAS

*April 20 - Lost to Hilliard Darby 25-5, 25-6, 25-2

*April 22 - Lost to Hilliard Davidson 25-7, 25-6, 25-11

Last Saturday - Lost to Watterson (25-9, 25-12) and DeSales (2513, 25-19)

*Last Tuesday - Played Worthington Kilbourne

*Today - At Dublin Coffman. Coffman won 25-11, 25-15, 25-10 on April 13.

*Tuesday - At Upper Arlington. UA won 25-9, 25-22, 25-14 on April 15.

Of note: The Cardinals were 0-14 overall and 0-6 in the OCC-Ohio Division before last Tuesday.

KILBOURNE

*April 20 - Lost to Hilliard Davidson 21-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-16

*April 22 - Lost to Upper Arlington 25-12, 22-25, 25-18, 25-22

Last Saturday - Lost to Pickerington North 13-25, 26-24, 23-25, 25-18, 15-13 and def. Westerville Central 25-21, 24-26, 25-13, 25-16

*Last Tuesday - Played Thomas Worthington

*Today - At Hilliard Darby. Darby won 25-19, 25-22, 25-23 on April 17

Saturday - Home vs. Stow-Munroe Falls and Cincinnati Elder

*Wednesday - At Dublin Coffman. Coffman won 25-21, 25-23, 25-18 on April 15.

Of note: The Wolves were 5-9 overall and 2-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Ohio match