North winning close matches
Not much has come easy this season for the Westerville North High School boys volleyball team.
Coach Marlin Weisenbarger expected that after having to replace six 2012 graduates who were instrumental in North winning three league championships in the last four seasons.
While the Warriors have no go-to player like 2012 graduate Evan McCoy, an outside hitter who was first-team all-region and all-league, they've won by committee -- with plenty of drama.
"I think we've played more (games) than anybody in the state," said Weisenbarger, whose team was 13-4 overall and 7-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Olentangy Liberty on April 30. "It seems like all of our matches are going five (games). We've been lucky to come out on the right side in the majority of them."
The Warriors had played six matches that went five games before facing Westerville Central on April 29, including a 20-25, 25-15, 25-11, 22-25, 15-13 loss to Upper Arlington on April 24. Four other contests lasted four games.
The match against Central also went five games, with North winning 23-25, 25-22, 19-25, 25-17, 15-13.
After losing to Liberty 25-11, 13-25, 16-25, 25-21, 15-6 on April 11, North put together a string of six victories that included wins over Pickerington North (28-26, 19-25, 25-20, 25-23 on April 22), Dublin Scioto (25-23, 16-25, 23-25, 25-14, 15-11 on April 19) and Worthington Kilbourne (25-17, 25-17, 18-25, 26-24 on April 16).
Pickerington North was ranked 10th in last week's Division I state poll and Scioto, which had one league loss entering play this week, was eighth in Division II.
"I would be surprised if Scioto loses another conference match," Weisenbarger said. "So if we take care of business, we would be in a great spot to finish second. It would be even better if someone could knock off Scioto."
One preseason question mark the Warriors have answered involves the play of junior setter Dominick Kocak, who Weisenbarger said has elevated his game.
Senior libero Drew Hollobaugh "covers the whole court playing defense," Weisenbarger said.
Middle hitters Alex Rhodes and Markus Peterson, a first-year player, have been other top contributors along with outside hitter Andrew Kenreigh.
South dealing with inconsistency
With an experienced group of seven seniors and two juniors, South coach Chris Bielby had hoped to have his team in contention for a league title at this point in the season.
Instead, the Wildcats were 4-12 overall and 2-8 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Dublin Jerome on April 30.
"We just haven't found that right niche on the floor and we're not consistent enough," Bielby said. "We certainly had high hopes this season. We've played teams tough where a lot of matches have gone five (games). In some cases, we just can't keep the lead."
South finished fourth of eight teams April 27 in the home Wildcat Classic won by Cincinnati LaSalle. It defeated Stow-Munroe Falls 25-21, 25-23 before falling to Liberty Township Lakota East 25-12, 25-12 and to DeSales 25-18, 25-16.
Central showing late-season spark
Over a span of 10 days, Central coach Jimmy Yu watched his team compile nearly all of its victories with four wins in five matches.
Central was 5-11 overall and 2-8 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Kilbourne on April 30.
"You can actually see us getting better from the Dublin Jerome (match) on," Yu said. "We didn't get a lot of practice time early in the season, but now we've had a chance to work on defense and it's really showing. We're really starting to play as a team."
The Warhawks defeated Jerome 25-18, 25-17, 15-25, 23-25, 18-16 on April 18 then went on to beat Liberty 25-22, 19-25, 25-23, 25-23 on April 23 and South 25-23, 25-18, 17-25, 20-25, 15-12 on April 25 in two other league contests.
Central closes its league schedule against visiting Scioto on Tuesday, May 7.