After playing six five-game matches during the regular season, senior outside hitter Allison Largent thought the New Albany High School girls volleyball team had developed a comfort level in such matches.

After playing six five-game matches during the regular season, senior outside hitter Allison Largent thought the New Albany High School girls volleyball team had developed a comfort level in such matches.

However, a five-game match in the first round of the Division I district tournament proved to be a much tougher experience for the Eagles.

Gahanna pulled out a 25-17, 17-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-6 victory over New Albany on Oct. 20 at Granville to end the Eagles' season at 12-11 overall.

"We had been there before. Our biggest thing was that we needed to be confident," said Largent, whose team went 2-5 in five-game matches this season. "Because our team was so young, a lot of us were really nervous."

"I think they were scared to lose," coach Karen Morlan said. "(During the regular season) they played hard through those types of matches, but because it was a tournament game, they let up a little bit in that fifth game because they wanted to win so badly."

The Eagles lost their first four five-game matches before a 17-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-12 win over Delaware on Oct. 11 and a 26-24, 25-20, 24-26, 22-25, 15-7 win over Mount Vernon on Oct. 13 during a five-match winning streak at the end of the regular season.

The strong finish helped New Albany tie Delaware for fifth (6-8) in the OCC-Capital Division, behind champion Hilliard Bradley (13-1), Big Walnut (12-2), Mount Vernon (10-4) and Olentangy Orange (7-7) and ahead of Watkins Memorial (2-12) and Franklin Heights (0-14).

The Eagles lose two seniors in Largent and defensive specialist Katerina Kostas as well as junior outside hitter Sammi Fitz, who is moving to North Carolina. Largent led the team in kills (228) and aces (37) and was second in service reception (383) and digs (369).

Leading the list of expected returnees are juniors Ashley Anders (5-foot-11 middle hitter/outside hitter), Abbey Norton (5-7 defensive specialist) and Emily Rolwing (5-10 middle hitter), sophomores Lauren Bressler (5-4 libero), Shira Katz (5-9 outside hitter), Kayla Morlan (5-10 middle hitter) and Erica Wisniewski (5-7 setter) and freshman Lindsey Huber (5-7 outside hitter).

Kayla Morlan led the team in blocks (62) and was second in kills (127) and aces (26). Bressler led the team in service reception (463) and digs (377), and Anders was second in blocks (36).

"Allison was our captain and a good leader for the team the whole season," coach Morlan said. "This was Katerina's first year of playing varsity. She was fun to coach. She brought a new personality to the team and seemed to bond with the girls."

Largent enjoyed being in a leadership role.

"I went from being on a senior-dominated team last year to a younger team this year. Last year I could sit back and take care of myself," Largent said. "This year, being one of two seniors, I had to take a leadership position. It was so cool to be part of that."