Second-year Dublin Scioto High School boys volleyball coach Doug Arden knew he would be facing a rebuilding season this spring after his team advanced to a Division II state semifinal a year ago.
The Irish lost 11 players from last season to graduation and return just two players with limited varsity experience in senior outside hitter Cole Hussey and junior setter Cameron Gastaldo. Neither earned a letter last year.
"For these guys, there's a little reminder of last season," Arden said. "The same jerseys they're wearing did that last year, so there's a little bit of legacy there now that we can try and build on and live up to, but it's a different group and they have their own work to do."
Making its first state tournament appearance since 2003, Scioto lost to Akron Hoban 25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 25-14 to finish 20-4 overall.
In 2003, the Irish lost to Hilliard Darby 15-9, 13-15, 15-6 in a state quarterfinal.
Scioto, which was 1-2 overall and in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Thomas Worthington on April 10, lost to Worthington Kilbourne 26-24, 25-18, 25-20 on April 9.
The Irish opened with a 25-23, 25-15, 25-16 win over Delaware on April 3 before losing to Darby 25-8, 25-8, 25-7 on April 5.
The rest of the players played junior varsity last season or are new to the sport.
Seniors Youssef Nagaty (middle hitter) and Jonny Schorr (middle hitter) are new to the sport, but have earned starting spots.
Junior Grayson Bramble (right-side hitter) and sophomores Jonathan Heasley (setter), Dedar Mergaye (outside hitter) and Riley Passias (right-side hitter) played j.v. last season, while seniors Isaac Bodine (defensive specialist) and Malek Mustafa (libero) are in their first seasons.
Mergaye had eight kills against Delaware.
"We knew coming into the season it was going to be rough because when you lose a lot of seniors it's going to be a different element, so we're coming into this almost fresh," Gastaldo said. "We have two players who have never played volleyball starting on varsity, so we're trying to adapt to them. We're trying to not only become a better team, but better players."
Arden said perennial power Darby remains the team to beat in the OCC-Cardinal. Last season, the Irish went 10-2 in the league to place second behind the Panthers (12-0).
Darby lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius 25-18, 26-24, 25-19 in the Division I state final last season.
"Darby lost some guys, but they filled in some guys, so they'll be as tough a test as there is around," Arden said.
A key loss to graduation for the Irish was outside hitter Derek Topp, who had 243 kills, 64 aces and 25 blocks last season and was named first-team all-state and all-OCC-Cardinal and region Player of the Year.
Another graduate was setter Ross Esterline, who had 451 assists, 30 aces and 14 blocks a year ago and was first-team all-region and all-league and honorable mention all-state.
Hill again to lead boys tennis team
The boys tennis team again should be led by senior Joe Hill at first singles.
Last season, Hill advanced to the Division I district tournament, where he lost to Thomas Worthington's Kai Britz 6-1, 6-3 in the first round.
"I definitely want to have a winning record and also make district again. Those are my two main goals," Hill said. "I've been a leader throughout the four years I've been here."
Scioto opened April 5 with a 4-1 win over Darby in an OCC-Cardinal match. Its league match against Delaware on April 3 was postponed because of bad weather.
Last season, the Irish finished 8-9 overall and went 3-3 in the OCC-Cardinal to place third behind Jerome (6-0) and Darby (5-1).
Scioto, which played Worthington Kilbourne on April 10, plays host to Jerome on April 19.
"We have nothing to lose," 23rd-year coach Mike Wrigley said of playing the Celtics. "If you go out and play nervous, then things aren't going to go very well. If you go out and take a shot at it, then a lot of times you can compete with them and win a court."
Winning against Darby were Hill at first singles (6-1, 6-2), junior Santhusht Prasad at third singles (6-0, 6-0), seniors Kunal Arya and Jasmohan Bawa at first doubles (6-1, 6-2) and junior Dylan Mathess and sophomore Jonathan Steinke at second doubles (4-6, 6-4, 1-0).
Arya, Bawa, Mathess and Prasad all saw time on varsity last season.
Another returnee, senior Shivam Patel, is playing second singles, while juniors Connor Page and Joey Randazzio also should contribute.
"We're a competitive team," Wrigley said. "We're not an overly powerful team, but we'll compete with teams. I'm looking forward to seeing how well they rise to the challenge and how well they do."
Girls track coach begins second season
Girls track and field coach Stacey Schall is pleased with the team's continued development as she begins her second season.
"This season has gone much more smoothly for everyone than last, both because I know what to expect, but also because the girls have really bought into what we started last year," Schall said. "I have so many leaders who have stepped up and taken their younger, new teammates under their wing to show them what we do and how we do it, especially when it comes to warm-up, lifting and meets."
The Irish opened March 31 by finishing fifth (70.5 points) in the Newark Invitational behind champion Olentangy Orange (103) as 14 teams scored.
Senior Yosolajesu Olujide-Ajibade (sprints) won the 400 meters (1 minute) and sophomore Folake Olujide-Ajibade (hurdles, sprints, high jump) won the 300 hurdles (48.66).
The Irish were scheduled to compete in the Stingel Invitational on April 7 at Pickerington North, but the meet was canceled because of bad weather.
Other key returnees include seniors Sasha Lee (throws), Brooklyn Richardson (sprints) and Sara Spoelstra (high jump), juniors Lauren Chapman (distance), Erin Holsinger (sprints) and Nena Hayes (hurdles) and sophomores Taysia Cordova (long jump, sprints), Foluke Olujide-Ajibade (sprints, high jump), Alexandra Kasson (long jump, sprints) and Maggie Szabo (distance).
Key newcomers include senior Kennedie Lomax (throws) and freshmen Corinne Adams (sprints), Audrey Bannister (distance), Faith Bylaw (distance), Kate Cowan (distance), Haley Park (distance) and Allie Thornbloom (distance).
Bannister finished 37th (18:51.4) of 173 runners in the state cross country meet last fall.
Last season at regional, Yosolajesu Olujide-Ajibade, Folake Olujide-Ajibade and Richardson were part of the seventh-place 800 relay (1:44.08) and Yosolajesu Olujide-Ajibade placed eighth in the 400 (59.97).
The Irish did not have any state qualifiers a year ago and finished third (91) in the OCC-Cardinal meet behind champion Darby (189).
"We always want to score as many points and place as high as we can at the OCC meet," Schall said. "We really focus on that meet as a team. After that, we do more strategic placement to get as many athletes as far in the postseason as we can. It is always my goal to develop each athlete, both physically and mentally."
Eveland, Arellano to help lead boys team
The boys track and field team also is looking to be represented in the Division I state meet after not having any qualifiers last season.
Scioto opened March 31 by finishing 10th (32) in the Newark Invitational behind champion Big Walnut (99) as 16 teams scored.
Junior Max Eveland won the pole vault (12 feet, 6 inches).
"There's a lot of upside still to come for Max," 23rd-year coach Kevin Foley said. "He could be in the 13s, maybe hit 14 next year. He's really improved."
Another key returnee is senior distance runner Cesar Arellano, who was running in the top 10 in the 3,200 at regional last season before being forced to drop out with a leg injury.
Junior Zach Sopher finished 14th at regional in the high jump (5-10) last season.
Other key contributors should be seniors Brian Briones (distance), Eugene Choi (hurdles, long jump), Maurice Driscoll (throws), Tyler Mielke (distance) and Mitchell Thomas (distance), juniors Zach Burmane (hurdles, long jump), Bryce Collins (sprints) and Eric Holsinger (sprints), sophomores Vince Bernard (hurdles), Donovan Hardin (throws), Collin McKenzie (distance), Ayush Mehra (sprints), Jordon Penn (sprints), Connor Shemanski (pole vault), Sam Thomas (distance) and Nick Wolfe (throws) and freshmen Ali Latif (distance), Xavier Lopes (sprints) and Trevor Page (distance).
"We're stronger in the field (events) than what we have been," Foley said. "The good news is we're young in the field. Depth is going to be the issue (overall)."
Last season, Scioto finished sixth (44.5) in the OCC-Cardinal meet, behind champion Thomas Worthington (192).
*April 3 -- vs. Delaware
April 4 -- at Marysville
*April 5 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
*April 10 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
April 11 -- Watterson at Park of Roses
*April 12 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
April 14 -- Hilliard Bradley Doubles Classic
*April 17 -- at Hilliard Bradley
April 18 -- at Pickerington Central
*April 19 -- vs. Jerome
April 24 -- at Olentangy Liberty
April 30- at Coffman
May 1 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
May 2 -- at Westerville North
May 7 -- at Pickerington North
TRACK & FIELD
March 31 -- Newark Invitational
April 11 -- vs. Coffman
April 14 -- Dublin Classic at Coffman
April 17 -- Hammond Relays at Hilliard Darby
April 20 -- Fulton Relays at Lancaster
April 24 -- at Marysville
April 28 -- Gary Smith Invitational at Thomas Worthington
April 30 -- at Olentangy
May 4 -- Larkin/Crosten Invitational at Upper Arlington
May 10, 12 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Coffman
*April 3 -- vs. Delaware
*April 5 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
*April 9 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
*April 10 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
*April 12 -- at Hilliard Bradley
*April 17 -- vs. Jerome
April 20 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty and Pickerington North
*April 23 -- at Delaware
*April 24 -- at Hilliard Darby
*April 26 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*May 1 -at Thomas Worthington
*May 3 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
May 4 -- Battle of Dublin at home
*May 8 -- at Jerome
May 10 -- vs. St. Charles
Below are the coming schedules for the Scioto baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and softball teams:
*April 13 -- At Hilliard Darby
*April 16 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
April 17 -- At Coffman
*April 18 -- Home vs. Kilbourne
April 12 -- Home vs. St. Charles
*April 17 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
April 13 -- At Chillicothe
*April 18 -- At Thomas
April 13 -- At Big Walnut
April 14 -- Home vs. Centennial and London
*April 16 -- Home vs. Jerome
April 17 -- Home vs. Whetstone
April 18 -- At West Jefferson