In more ways than one, the Olentangy High School boys volleyball team is entering uncharted territory.

In more ways than one, the Olentangy High School boys volleyball team is entering uncharted territory.

The Braves are coming off the best season in the program's young history, as they went 16-9 overall last year and lost to OCC-Capital Division rival Pickerington North 25-22, 25-17, 25-18 in a Division I East Region semifinal.

Olentangy returns a handful of contributors from that team and has a new coach in Karen Kochheiser.

"This is a hard-working group that's eager to learn and ready to build off what we've done here," Kochheiser said. "The guys know we have a lot to replace. We lost five big contributors from last year. But it's been enjoyable so far. We've had 20 to 22 guys at open gyms since November. They want to be a part of the team."

Olentangy opened March 29 at home against Hilliard Davidson.

Kochheiser replaced Travis Weitthoff, who had coached the team since its inception in 2013.

Setter Josh Grega leads a class of six seniors that also includes Austin Gossett (defensive specialist/outside hitter), Sam Hyburg (right-side hitter), Carter Kinnaird (middle hitter), Connor Wilson (middle hitter/right-side hitter) and Liam Youmans (middle hitter).

Defensive specialist/outside hitter Bradley Cluff and defensive specialist Nate Shipley are the team's only juniors, ahead of a class of eight sophomores that consists of Bentley Azbell (libero), Kurt Freeman (setter), Aaric Gossett (defensive specialist/outside hitter), Joey Huyhn (defensive specialist), Andy Montell (defensive specialist/outside hitter), Mitchell Postak (middle hitter), Jack Spohn (middle hitter) and Trent Trees (defensive specialist/libero).

Kochheiser had stints coaching the boys and girls teams at Thomas Worthington in the 1990s, and has been the junior varsity girls coach and a varsity assistant at Olentangy in recent years.

Her son, 2015 Olentangy graduate Austin Kochheiser, is a tight end on the University of Chicago's football team. Her daughter, 2015 Olentangy graduate Makayla Kochheiser, is a volleyball player at Chicago.

The Braves' OCC-Capital opener is Tuesday, April 5, at home against North.

Olentangy was 6-4 in the league last year, finishing third behind champion Mount Vernon (9-1). The Braves handed the Yellow Jackets their league loss.

"We'll have some good tests on our schedule," Kochheiser said. "We'll have a few matches where guys will be gone and other guys will have a chance to step up and show what they can do."

Inexperienced Patriots set goals high

Liberty will have to overcome some inexperience if it is to repeat as OCC-Cardinal champion and win its fourth league title in five years.

The Patriots return two starters in senior setters/opposite hitters Daniel Koloff and Andrew Palo, as well as a third player who swung between varsity and junior varsity in junior Blake Knollman, from a team that went 19-5 overall and 11-1 in the league. Liberty finished a match ahead of runner-up Dublin Scioto (10-2) in the OCC-Cardinal and lost to Gahanna 25-17, 25-12, 25-27, 25-23 in a Division I East Region semifinal.

"We graduated eight guys who took a lot of experience with them," 12th-year coach Dave Hale said. "Daniel's been with the program since his sophomore year, and Andrew has been here since he was a freshman, which is good for us. They'll be able to do a lot to bring the younger guys along. Our other guys have been in the program, but they will have to get used to the speed and intensity of the varsity level."

Koloff had 168 kills, 438 digs and 57 aces as a junior. Palo added 80 kills, 101 digs and 20 aces.

Liberty's season and league opener was March 29 at home against Westerville South.

Also on the roster are senior Alex Edwards (defensive specialist) and juniors Kevin Koghlan (defensive specialist), Jack Kottenstette (middle hitter), Max Monson (middle hitter), A.J. Smith (outside hitter) and Enzo Wielezynski (defensive specialist).

"The seniors are used to the success we've had, and they want to keep that up," Hale said. "This year, it's going to be a challenge for the newer guys to step up and fill the holes we have. They'll have to adjust quickly."

Schedules

LIBERTY

*March 29 -- vs. Westerville South

*April 4 -- at Worthington Kilbourne

*April 6 -- at Westerville Central

*April 7 -- at Westerville North

*April 12 -- at Dublin Scioto

April 13 -- vs. DeSales

*April 14 -- vs. Dublin Jerome

*April 18 -- at Westerville South

*April 19 -- vs. Westerville Central

*April 21 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

April 25 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson

April 27 -- vs. St. Charles

*April 28 -- vs. Westerville North

*May 3 -- vs. Dublin Scioto

*May 5 -- at Dublin Jerome

OLENTANGY

March 29 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson

March 31 -- vs. Northland

April 2 -- Massillon Jackson Tournament

*April 5 -- vs. Pickerington North

April 6 -- vs. Watterson

*April 7 -- at Pickerington Central

*April 12 -- vs. Gahanna

April 13 -- at Upper Arlington

*April 14 -- at Delaware

*April 19 -- vs. Mount Vernon

*April 21 -- at Pickerington North

April 23 -- at St. Charles

April 25 -- at Worthington Kilbourne

*April 26 -- vs. Pickerington Central

*April 27 -- at Gahanna

April 30 -- vs. Thomas Worthington

*May 3 -- vs. Delaware

May 4 -- at DeSales

*May 5 -- at Mount Vernon

May 10 -- at Hilliard Bradley

*League contest