The Olentangy Orange High School girls volleyball team has reached a Division I regional semifinal each of the past two seasons, but fourth-year coach Katie Duy is preparing her players for more this fall.
Duy made up a challenging schedule in an effort to get the most out of the Pioneers when matches mean the most.
Orange finished 21-5 overall last season, losing to Dublin Coffman 25-15, 26-24, 25-11 in a regional semifinal after tying Liberty for the OCC-Buckeye Division title at 9-1.
The Pioneers opened Aug. 18 with a 25-17, 25-22, 25-21 loss to Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, a Division I regional finalist last fall. They bounced back with a 25-23, 17-25, 25-21, 25-22 win Aug. 21 over Big Walnut, which was runner-up in the Division II state tournament last year.
Orange defeated Hilliard Davidson 25-14, 25-15, 24-26, 25-13 on Aug. 23 to improve to 2-1 before playing defending regional champion Coffman on Aug. 28.
"This is probably the toughest schedule that we have ever had," said Duy, whose team opens league play Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Liberty. "We have an extremely competitive group, and we wanted to take them outside Columbus, which is why we went down to Mount Notre Dame, one of the best programs in the state. We want to continue to push ourselves."
The Pioneers return five starters in seniors Sidney Gossard (middle blocker), Megan McCollum (defensive specialist), Taylor Metzler (outside hitter) and Carrigan O'Reilly (setter) and sophomore London Davis (outside hitter).
"We're excited about this season because we're the first class to go through all four years with (Duy)," Gossard said. "We have had a tough schedule, but it will help us get better as we go through the season."
Right-side hitter Brooke Little and outside hitter Meara Reeder round out the senior class.
O'Reilly has missed the first few matches with a leg injury suffered while lifting weights, but is expected to return early in September. Stepping in for O'Reilly has been freshman Hanna Borer.
Also returning are sophomores Addie Evans (defensive specialist) and Tazmin Appiah (middle blocker). Junior defensive specialists Mya Hendricks and Nina Marin have moved up from junior varsity.
Junior defensive specialist Madison Moll and sophomores Abby Deshazo (defensive specialist) and Ariana Jackson (middle blocker) round out the roster.
Girls soccer team aims to defend league title
The girls soccer team has six starters back from last season when it finished 11-7-1 overall, losing to Liberty 3-1 in a Division I district final after winning the OCC-Buckeye title at 4-1.
The returnees are senior midfielder Aurelia Johnson (2 goals), senior goalkeeper Linnea Milner (33 saves), senior midfielder Grace Weidenhamer (honorable mention all-league), junior defender Keeley Galloway (special mention all-league) and junior midfielders Sophia Lionetti and Grace Poorbaugh (first-team all-league)
Sophomore goalie Karson Hill (34 saves) also received playing time.
"We have a very skillful group," said second-year coach Tim Lawrence, whose team opens league play Sept. 13 against Liberty. "They are also very unified as a group, which is important. We're young but have a good core group, and we have some depth."
Senior midfielder/forwards Sydney Beck and Shazia Waggoner are new to varsity, as is junior Sam Fedio, a defender/midfielder. Sophomores Abby Sutley and Liz Woo are key defenders.
Junior Payton Kaufman (defender/forward), sophomores Autumn Dasbach (defender), Addie Masters (midfielder), Amanda Poorbaugh (goalie) and Morgan Scott (midfielder/forward) and freshmen defender/midfielders Camryn Earl, Secora Johnson and Maia Kaufman complete the roster.
The Pioneers opened with a 5-1 win over Berlin on Aug. 17. They then lost to Davidson 2-1 on Aug. 23.
Boys soccer team returns three starters
The boys soccer team has just three starters back from last season after senior midfielder Nick Kaschak suffered an Achilles injury in the offseason and cannot play this fall.
Returning are his senior brother, midfielder Mitch Kaschak, senior midfielder/def-ender Joey Brooks (special mention all-league) and senior defender Richie Porrello (honorable mention all-league). Senior Alex Beck also saw time in goal last season.
"We're very young, but they are playing very well together," said second-year coach Jason Bayer, whose team finished 8-8-3 overall last season and was fifth (1-2-2) in the OCC-Buckeye behind champion Liberty (4-0-1). "We don't have that one star player, but we have a bunch of good kids playing together. We have to take advantage of our opportunities when we have them."
Goalie Nolan Brooks and midfielder/defender Nick Daniels round out the senior class.
Junior midfielder/forward Eddie Muller and sophomore midfielder Nate Hoang saw significant time on offense last season. Sophomores Ben Abbott (defender) and Alex James (midfielder) also will play key roles.
"When we play together we play well, but when we don't, it's a different story," said Bayer, whose team opens league play Sept. 13 at Liberty. "They need to get out there and play and have fun."
The Pioneers opened by tying Berlin at 2 on Aug. 17. They defeated Thomas Worthington 3-2 on Aug. 21 and lost to DeSales 5-0 on Aug. 23.
Aug. 17 -- at Olentangy Berlin
Aug. 21 -- at Thomas Worthington
Aug. 23 -- at DeSales
Aug. 28 -- at Dublin Coffman
Aug. 30 -- at Pickerington Central
Sept. 4 -- vs. Franklin Heights
Sept. 6 -- vs. Beechcroft
Sept. 11 -- vs. Big Walnut
*Sept. 13 -- at Olentangy Liberty
Sept. 18 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 20 -- vs. Westerville Central
*Sept. 25 -- at Westerville South
Sept. 29 -- at Gahanna
*Oct. 2 -- at Olentangy
*Oct. 9 -- vs. Westerville North
Oct. 11 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
Aug. 17 -- at Olentangy Berlin
Aug. 23 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
Aug. 28 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
Aug. 30 -- at Marysville
Sept. 4 -- at Franklin Heights
Sept. 8 -- vs. Watterson
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
Sept. 18 -- at New Albany
*Sept. 20 -- at Westerville Central
Sept. 22 -- at Big Walnut
*Sept. 25 -- vs. Westerville South
Sept. 29 -- vs. DeSales
*Oct. 2 -- vs. Olentangy
Oct. 6 -- vs. Canal Winchester
*Oct. 9 -- at Westerville North
Oct. 11 -- at Thomas Worthington
Aug. 18 -- at Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame
Aug. 21 -- vs. Big Walnut
Aug. 23 -- at Hilliard Davidson
Aug. 28 -- at Dublin Coffman
Aug. 30 -- vs. Franklin Heights
*Sept. 4 -- at Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 6 -- vs. Westerville Central
Sept. 8 -- vs. Hartley
Sept. 11 -- vs. Pickerington North
*Sept. 13 -- at Westerville South
*Sept. 20 -- at Olentangy
Sept. 22 -- NEO Power Tournament at Mentor
*Sept. 25 -- vs. Westerville North
*Sept. 27 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
*Oct. 2 -- at Westerville Central
*Oct. 4 -- vs. Westerville South
Oct. 6 -- at Toledo St. Ursula
*Oct. 9 -- vs. Olentangy
*Oct. 11 -- at Westerville North
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange cross country, girls golf and girls tennis teams:
Sept. 1 -- Dual at the DeWine's in Cedarville
Sept. 4 -- New Albany Invitational at New Albany Country Club
*Sept. 4 -- At Olentangy
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington