The Gahanna Lincoln High School boys volleyball team hopes that the experience it gained last year can materialize into something special.

The Gahanna Lincoln High School boys volleyball team hopes that the experience it gained last year can materialize into something special.

The Lions return a large contingent of players. They finished 11-15 overall and 4-4 in the OCC-Capital Division.

"Last year we were very young as a varsity team," said coach Mike Sage, whose team opened last Saturday at Pickerington North in the St. Charles Cardinal Classic. "We had numerous juniors playing and a lot of sophomores, but the core experience we were lacking. The core group that played last year is back this year. The court awareness right now is already above what it was last year at this time."

The young Lions finished third in the OCC-Capital, behind Mount Vernon (8-0) and Pickerington North (6-2) and ahead of Delaware (2-6) and Pickerington Central (0-8).

They lost to Hilliard Davidson 25-18, 25-18, 25-10 in a regional semifinal to end their season.

Last Friday, Gahanna played positioning matches to determine their spot for last Saturday's tournament. The Lions wound up in the Gold Division with the upper-level teams.

Gahanna finished 0-3 in the Gold Division. The Lions lost to Cincinnati LaSalle 26-24, 28-26 before losing to Liberty Township Lakota East 26-16, 25-18. They also lost to defending state champion St. Charles 25-22, 25-20.

The Lions started 2-8 last year before finding their groove. This preseason they've had a lack of continuity at times for several reasons, Sage said.

"We are waiting to get people back together at the same time," Sage said. "We've had different variations of people missing practices for college testing and ROTC. We're not all on the same page, but we're looking forward to getting everyone together."

Leading the Lions is senior Brett Hollenbach, a middle hitter who was first-team all-OCC last season. Juniors Brandon Mason and Travis Murray are being counted on to give the Lions two experienced setters in their 6-2 alignment. Both played two years ago as freshmen.

Hollenbach, as well as senior Matthew Moyer, junior Josh Gruenbaum and junior Jerry Vo, are responsible for finishing most of the offensive attacks.

Also on the team are senior Kevin Geary and juniors Riley Bolte and Lance Wiles.

Last Saturday, it was mainly the two setters that stayed in their normal positions. Missing players forced others to compensate by playing out of position.

Sage said his team played well despite the holes. The Lions wants to take advantage of their versatility, but the key is staying focused.

At a glance

•Coach: Mike Sage, seventh season

•Next game: Today at Hilliard Bradley

•Key players: Brett Hollenbach, Brandon Mason and Travis Murray


March 26 at St. Charles Cardinal Classic at Pickerington North

March 27 at St. Charles Cardinal Classic at Pickerington North

*March 30 vs. Pickerington Central

*April 1 at Hilliard Bradley

April 3 at Worthington Kilbourne vs. Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit and Olentangy Liberty

*April 6 vs. Pickerington North

April 8 vs. Licking Heights

April 10 vs. Beavercreek, Dublin Coffman and Walsh Jesuit

April 12 vs. Dublin Coffman

*April 15 at Delaware

April 16 at Dublin Scioto vs. Thomas Worthington and Watterson

*April 19 vs. Mount Vernon

*April 22 at Pickerington Central

*April 27 vs. Hilliard Bradley

*April 29 at Pickerington North

*May 4 vs. Delaware

May 5 at Westerville Central

*May 7 at Mount Vernon

*OCC-Capital game