When Doug Arden returned as coach of the Dublin Scioto High School boys volleyball team this season, he inherited a solid nucleus, led by a senior with an impressive reputation.
Arden, who stepped down as coach after the 2013 season after leading the Irish for nine years, was aware of Derek Topp's achievements in the sport and was looking forward to coaching the 6-foot-5 outside hitter.Video •Watch an interview with Dublin Scioto boys volleyball player Derek Topp.
Topp hasn't disappointed, leading the Irish to records of 12-3 overall and 8-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before a home match against Jerome on May 9.
Through 15 matches, Topp led the Irish in kills (174), service aces (50) and blocks (21), doubling the second-leading player in each category.
"Being 6-5 helps a ton," Arden said. "He's not just a hitter. He can pass, he's got good hands. He's a smart blocker. He has a big jump serve, so that's huge that he's not one-dimensional."
Last season, Topp had a team-high 332 kills as well as 138 digs and 40 aces in 23 matches and was named OCC-Cardinal Player of the Year as well as first-team all-state and all-region in Division II.
As a sophomore, he was honorable mention all-region and second-team all-league.
Topp started playing volleyball in sixth grade. He credits his older brother, Kelton, for helping form his love of the sport. The brothers were teammates with the Irish in the 2014 season, when Kelton was a senior middle hitter and Derek was a freshman.
"It was fun playing varsity with him," Derek said.
Topp plans on attending Ohio State, but will not play volleyball.
Scioto has a league match Thursday, May 11, at Thomas Worthington. The Irish defeated the Cardinals 25-10, 25-13, 25-7 on May 2.
Scioto then will compete in the Battle of Dublin with host Coffman and Jerome on Friday, May 12.
The Irish were swept in OCC-Cardinal play by Hilliard Darby, losing 25-10, 25-23, 25-18 on April 6 and 25-17, 25-13, 25-12 on April 25. The Panthers, who won Division I state titles in 2015 and 2013, won their 18th consecutive league title.
"The team is playing really well together," Topp said. "We're all so close. We've played together since freshman year. It's pretty much all the same guys."
Arden believes his team's challenging regular-season schedule, which includes some of the area's top Division I programs, will help the Irish in the Division II postseason.
"I like where this team is now," Arden said. "It's hard because you're always trying to find things to make better. ... We know the end of the (regular) season is looming and we know the tournament is looming, and we need to show up and play against every team."
Baseball team loses
Seeded 28th of 46 teams, the baseball team lost to 39th-seeded Newark 1-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 8 at home.
The Irish finished the season 9-16 overall.
Newark scored an unearned run in the third inning.
Coach Ryan Longbrake said Jake Schmidt pitched well in defeat.
The Irish, who lost at Jonathan Alder 3-2 on May 6, finished 5-7 in the OCC-Cardinal as Darby won the league title at 11-1.
Scioto lost at Jerome 5-4 on May 1, but avenged the setback with a 15-7 win over the Celtics on May 3 at home. Irish coach Ryan Longbrake is a 2010 Jerome graduate who coached the Celtics' junior varsity the past two seasons.
Softball team opens
The softball team is assured of its first winning season since 2006.
Scioto was 13-9 overall before opening the postseason and finished 8-4 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing at Hilliard Bradley 8-4 on May 8.
The Irish went 0-2 in the Battle for the Cure on May 7, losing to host Coffman and Jerome by identical 8-4 scores. The event was postponed May 6 because of bad weather. The loss to the Celtics counted in the league standings.
Seeded 15th of 45 teams in the Division I district tournament, Scioto had a first-round bye and played 16th-seeded Watterson in the second round May 10. The winner likely will play top-seeded Pickerington Central in a district semifinal Monday, May 15, at a neutral site to be determined.
The district final will be May 19 or 20 at Central.