The Olentangy Liberty High School girls volleyball team exhibited excellent ball control and passing during its 25-10, 25-10, 25-10 victory over Columbus West in its Division I district tournament opener last Saturday.
According to coach Jen Chapman, the third-seeded Patriots will need to maintain that if they are going to make a long run in the district tournament. Liberty was 21-2 before playing seventh-seeded Thomas Worthington in a district semifinal last Wednesday, with the winner playing fourth-seeded Westerville Central or Gahanna in a district final at 1 p.m. Saturday at Licking Heights.
"West was scrappy defensively, so our hitters had to fight for every kill they got," Chapman said. "We have the size to put up a good block in the front row and we play good defense, so the key for us in the tournament is going to be our ball control. When we pass well, we have the offense to beat anyone."
Liberty defeated Gahanna 19-25, 25-21, 25-23, 14-25, 15-12 on Sept. 30 and split two matches against Central, losing 25-23, 25-20, 25-19 on Sept. 17 and winning 25-23, 17-25, 18-25, 25-22, 15-12 on Oct. 13.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal against Centerville, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, Lebanon or West Chester Lakota West at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Hilliard Davidson. The regional final is Nov. 7 at Davidson.
"Either of those teams would be tough to beat again," Chapman said, referring to Central and Gahanna. "Gahanna has a setter who has started for three years, a scrappy libero and good outside hitters. Westerville Central has good outside hitters, a big middle and a good setter. We may need to go to five games to beat either of them again. We've got kids who have a lot of experience in those situations. They don't get frazzled under pressure situations. They've been there before and they know how to handle it."
Liberty, which lost to Worthington Kilbourne 23-25, 25-23, 25-18, 21-25, 15-6 in the second round of the district tournament a year ago, went 3-0 in five-game matches during the regular season.
Against West, Brynn Erdy racked up 27 assists and five blocks, Morgan Stewart had 11 kills and four blocks, Morgan Tyree had 10 kills and 10 digs, Morgan Woods had nine digs, Brittney Wex had four aces and four blocks and Maddie McKay had four aces.
Liberty's statistical leaders through the regular season were Andrea Noe with 315 kills, Woods with 270 digs, Stewart with 120 blocks, Wex with 36 aces and Erdy with 615 assists.
"We'd love to beat a Cincinnati team, because a Columbus team hasn't beaten a Cincinnati team in the regional tournament in a long time," Wex said. "We're not scared of anybody. Our chemistry is good both on and off the court. If we have good ball control and passing and minimize our unforced errors, we can beat anyone."
•Orange lost to Lancaster 25-20, 20-25, 25-8, 25-15 in the first round of the district tournament Oct. 22 to finish 7-16 overall.
"We played well in game two, but after they beat us in game three, we never recovered," coach Stephanie Lanthorn said. "Our serving was awesome, but we struggled with our passing and serve-receive game. Jessica Redd was a stud in this match, leading us in kills, digs and aces. Kelsey Lewis led the team in blocks and Jaimie Lipp played well, with good defense and passing."
At a glance
Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Liberty, Olentangy and Orange girls volleyball teams:
Last Saturday -- Defeated Columbus West 25-10, 25-10, 25-10 in second round of Division I district tournament
Last Wednesday -- Played seventh-seeded Thomas Worthington in district semifinal. Winner plays fourth-seeded Westerville Central or Gahanna in a district final Saturday (1 p.m.) at Licking Heights. District champion plays in a regional semifinal Wednesday (6 p.m.) at Hilliard Davidson against Centerville, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, Lebanon or West Chester Lakota West. The regional final is Nov. 7 at Davidson. The Patriots are seeded third and had a first-round bye.
Of note: The Patriots were 21-2 overall before last Wednesday.
Oct. 20 -- Lost to 10th-seeded Sparta Highland 25-17, 23-25, 14-25, 25-17, 15-12 in first round of Division II district tournament
Of note: The Braves finished 8-15 overall.
Oct. 22 -- Lost to Lancaster 25-20, 20-25, 25-8, 25-15 in first round of Division I district tournament
Of note: The Pioneers finished 7-16 overall.