The Worthington Kilbourne High School girls volleyball team won league championships the last two seasons, but it had to change its style of play after losing most of those key players.

The Worthington Kilbourne High School girls volleyball team won league championships the last two seasons, but it had to change its style of play after losing most of those key players.

The Wolves stayed competitive this season, although they didn't have enough to overcome second-seeded Pickerington North in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 22. They lost to the Panthers 25-18, 25-13, 25-13 at Licking Heights to finish 11-14 overall.

The Wolves went 5-9 in the OCC-Central Division to tie Thomas Worthington for sixth behind Dublin Coffman (14-0), Hilliard Davidson (10-4), Central Crossing (8-6), Hilliard Darby (6-8) and Upper Arlington (6-8). Westland (2-12) was last.

Coach Meladee Hopkins said the tournament loss was a microcosm of the season. The Wolves had a hard time controlling their passing and hitting on a consistent basis, and the result was too many unforced errors.

"There were only a couple of teams that actually came out and beat us," Hopkins said. "Most of the time it was hitting errors."

Kilbourne will lose six seniors, which is a high number among the other teams in the league. Hopkins is hoping that the junior varsity team which went 19-1 can help replenish what the Wolves will lose in seniors Katie Fleeman, Lilly Haddad, Amy Kiminas, Alyssa Nadolson, Sarah Singer, Rachel Wickizer and Margaret Wolford.

Junior Andrea Baldwin is expected to be a major force in the middle next season after missing time this year with a wrist injury. Baldwin will give the Wolves height and provide the offensive threat in the middle that junior Kelsey Howard is expected to provide from the outside.

Junior Jenn Neumeyer should be the defensive leader. Hopkins cited her scrappy play as one of the reasons Kilbourne hung in the match against North. Junior hitters Alyssa Montenaro and Kelsey Koke are also expected back as well as sophomore Chelsea McClain, who was moved up to varsity and is expected to take over at setter for Kiminas.

"In the conference there's really not a weak team," Hopkins said. "We're losing seven seniors and that's the most of any team. We're losing kids that are valuable to us. My sophomores and juniors are going to have to step up. It's not going to be easy."

• Thomas is looking forward to improve next year with a team that is returning nearly everyone. The Cardinals, who lost to Olentangy Liberty 25-18, 25-14, 25-16 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 16, finished 11-11 overall and 5-9 in the OCC-Central.

Thomas and Kilbourne played for the first time as league opponents this season and split the matches. Both teams won at home. Thomas won 25-15, 22-25, 25-16, 21-25, 15-11 on Oct. 6 and Kilbourne won 25-17, 25-23, 25-11 on Oct. 9.

Thomas will lose seniors Erica Blackburn and Sam Pracher, who were the lone holdovers from the OCC championship team from 2006.

"Overall we were much improved from last year, but our schedule was a little harder," coach Ed Marsman said. "We were a little bit slow to do better, but we added a lot of stuff to our offense that we weren't able to do last year."

He said the Cardinals found some quality replacements in sophomores Abby Swihart, who is expected to play setter next season, and Monica Lanno, who is expected to be one of the team's top hitters.

They are expected to join juniors Tayo Abdulrazak (outside hitter), Kyla Anderson (middle hitter) and Ify Okafor (middle hitter) as leaders next season. Those juniors will be third-year varsity players.

Also expected back are juniors Alyssa Brady (defensive specialist), Maggie Eakins (defensive specialists), Brianna Morrissey (defensive specialist), Casey Smiley (outside hitter) and Taylor Wucinich (defensive specialist).

"We're going to work on being a little more athletic in the offseason," Marsman said.

"Competition for spots will be very tough. When you have 10 players coming back, there are not many openings. That will be good for competition."

At a glance

KILBOURNE

•Record: 11-14 overall, 5-9 (sixth) in OCC-Central

•Seniors lost: Katie Fleeman, Lilly Haddad, Amy Kiminas, Alyssa Nadolson, Sarah Singer, Rachel Wickizer and Margaret Wolford

•Key returnees: Andrea Baldwin, Kelsey Howard and Jenn Neumeyer

THOMAS

•Record: 11-11 overall, 5-9 (sixth) in OCC-Central

•Seniors lost: Erica Blackburn and Sam Pracher

•Key returnees: Tayo Abdulrazak, Kyla Anderson and Ify Okafor