With four returning starters with at least two years of varsity experience, the Westerville South High School boys volleyball team expected a better start.

With four returning starters with at least two years of varsity experience, the Westerville South High School boys volleyball team expected a better start.

At 3-7 overall and 1-5 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Olentangy Liberty on April 24, the Wildcats are looking for signs of a turning point. They might have found one in a 31-29, 22-25, 25-20, 11-25, 15-13 win over Pickerington North on April 19.

"They might be rebuilding this year, but traditionally they've been a tough opponent," coach Chris Bielby said. "I think our hard work is going to start paying off. We're at the halfway point of the season and we're talking about where we want to be at the end of the season."

Last season, South went 8-12 overall, losing to Worthington Kilbourne 25-23, 25-8, 25-15 in the first round of the Division I regional tournament.

The Wildcats have never won a postseason match.

"We're just trying to find our groove," senior setter Tyler Ott said. "We're not staying consistent. We have the experience and we know what to do, but we haven't been able to put it together yet. We can come out hot and intense and other times we come out completely dead."

Through 10 matches, South's other victories came against Westerville Central (25-18, 26-24, 25-21 on April 10) and Pickerington Central (25-23, 25-18 on March 24). The Wildcats failed to win a game in only two of their first 10 matches, including a 25-11, 25-14, 25-10 loss to Liberty on April 5.

"We've been pretty competitive in almost every (match) we've played, but the scores might not show that," Bielby said. "Volleyball is a game of momentum and, if one team gets on a roll, it can get away in a hurry."

Bielby said his team has been led by Ott, junior middle blocker J.D. Coffey, junior libero Adam Bielby and junior opposite hitter Scott Richard. Coffey was moved from outside hitter at the start of the season.

"J.D. has never played that position and we're just starting to get some good results and look for him to improve and help give us better results," coach Bielby said.

South plays host to the Wildcat Classic on Saturday, April 28. Expected to participate in the event are DeSales, Licking Heights, Mason, Monroe, Stow-Munroe Falls, Thomas Worthington and Whetstone.

Warriors set for key match with Liberty

North travels to Liberty on Thursday, April 26, for a key OCC-Cardinal match.

The Warriors were 5-1 in the league before playing Westerville Central on April 24, while Liberty was 6-0 in the league before playing South on April 24.

The Warriors lost to the Patriots 25-11, 31-29, 23-25, 25-22 in the first round of league play on April 3.

"It could certainly set the tone for the league championship because I don't think anybody else is going to beat them," coach Marlin Weisenbarger said of the rematch with Liberty. "I think we're playing really good ball right now. We're not very deep, but we've been able to get some underclassmen experience, and that's paid off."

North entered the week having won seven of its last nine matches. One of its losses during that stretch came against Hilliard Darby, which was ranked third in the Division I state poll last week. The Warriors lost to the Panthers 25-3, 25-17, 25-19 on April 14.

"Right now, we're finding ways to push through those close matches and close them out," Weisenbarger said. "I was a little concerned early in the year when we were playing really well getting to 22 or 23, but failed to win the game."

Weisenbarger said expects the Warriors to receive a boost from the imminent return of senior middle hitter Zach Nickels, who has been out since tearing a muscle in a 25-23, 25-15, 21-25, 25-19 victory over Westerville South on April 4.

Weisenbarger said his team has been led by senior outside hitter Evan McCoy, senior setter Zach McKelvey and junior libero Drew Hollobaugh. McCoy is a four-year varsity player.

"Zach has just done a great job of running the offense and moving the ball around," Weisenbarger said. "You've got to have that quarterback.

Drew has also been playing some tremendous defense and he passes so well. He's been a really big part of our team."