The Gahanna Lincoln High School girls volleyball team survived a scare in its Division I district tournament opener on Oct. 20 at Granville, as it had to rally to beat New Albany 25-17, 17-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-6.

The Gahanna Lincoln High School girls volleyball team survived a scare in its Division I district tournament opener on Oct. 20 at Granville, as it had to rally to beat New Albany 25-17, 17-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-6.

Senior setter Emily Watson said that match was a much-needed wake-up call for the 16th-seeded Lions, who went on to defeat Olentangy Orange 25-15, 25-23, 25-16 in the second round two days later at Columbus East.

"When we fell behind New Albany, we realized that our season could end if we lost one more (game), and that made us more focused," Watson said. "That made all of us push harder and play better, and we've got a lot of momentum now. As long as we stay focused and do our thing, we know we can beat anyone."

Gahanna played top-seeded Pickerington North in a district semifinal on Oct. 26 at Big Walnut. The winner plays seventh-seeded Hilliard Bradley or ninth-seeded Thomas Worthington in a district final on Saturday, Oct. 29, at Big Walnut.

Bradley beat Groveport 25-9, 25-15, 25-13 in the second round on Oct. 22 to improve to 20-4, and Thomas defeated 10th-seeded Olentangy 15-25, 25-22, 17-25, 25-15, 15-11 in the second round on Oct. 22 to improve to 15-9.

The district champion will play Dublin Coffman, Olentangy Liberty, Westerville North or Canal Winchester in a regional semifinal on Wednesday, Nov. 2, at Hilliard Davidson.

Coffman is seed third in the district and Liberty is seeded fifth.

Assistant coach Jenni Sage, who served as the team's head coach against Orange in place of Scot Holmes who was out of town attending to personal matters, said the Lions need to continue running a quick offense the way they did in the first two rounds.

Leading Gahanna in kills through 24 matches were middle hitters Ashley Koons and Becca Scowden, while middle hitter Kelly Shannon was leading in blocks, defensive specialist Beth Coccia was leading in digs and Watson was leading in assists.

"Our girls are smart and Emily is doing a good job of running our plays," Sage said. "Ashley is hitting the ball well in the tournament, and the girls are well-prepared for this tournament."

Koons said the Lions must continue to improve defensively in order to knock off the higher seeds in the tournament.

"We need to pick up more stuff defensively, because it makes everyone excited when we make a big defensive play," Koons said.

Gahanna lost to 12th-seeded Westerville Central 25-21, 25-20, 25-12 in the first round of district last year.

But in the 2009 district tournament, the Lions upset 11th-seeded New Albany 25-22, 25-17, 25-20 and fourth-seeded Westerville Central 25-23, 25-19, 25-27, 20-25, 15-12 in a semifinal before losing to seventh-seeded Thomas Worthington 23-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-21 in a final.

"We lost to Pickerington North twice in the regular season, but the tournament is completely different," Watson said. "In the tournament, people can step up their games and that's when upsets happen. We've beaten higher seeds before and we know we can do it again."