With height and athleticism among its biggest strengths, the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys volleyball team is emphasizing getting the ball to its biggest hitters this season.
The Lions also have experience given that nearly all 10 of their seniors have been with the program since they were freshmen.
"We're going to need to be able to serve-receive, because if we can get our dynamic offensive players touching the ball, we can play with anybody," 16th-year coach Mike Sage said. "Our practices right now are very competitive with all the seniors we have. We have to make sure that transcends onto the floor."
Gahanna opened March 23 with a tri-match, beating Beavercreek 25-27, 34-32, 25-21 and losing to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 19-25, 25-22, 25-21, before losing a close match against defending Division II state champion St. Charles 25-15, 25-20, 26-28, 19-25, 15-6 on March 26.
The Lions opened OCC-Ohio Division action April 2 at Pickerington North.
Gahanna, which finished 15-10 overall and was league runner-up (9-3) behind Hilliard Davidson (10-4) last season, is led by seniors Mason Milan (outside hitter/right-side hitter) and Logan McDonald (libero).
Last season, Milan was named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-Division I East Region and McDonald was special mention all-league.
Seniors Kurt Klamfoth (middle hitter) and Adam Chandoul (outside hitter) and sophomore Logan Burrell (setter) also are key returnees. Chandoul split time at setter with Burrell last season but has moved to a full-time hitting role.
Klamfoth is about 6-foot-5 and Milan is 6-3.
"Logan Burrell is going to run our offense, and he's done a phenomenal job," Sage said. "Adam is probably one of the hardest hitters we've had in a long time. With him transitioning outside, we're looking for him to play at the next level. Mason, Adam and Kurt are probably going to be focal points offensively."
The other seniors are Eric Cox (defensive specialist), Scott Kellogg (outside hitter), Andrew Lau (middle hitter), Josh Linker (outside hitter/right-side hitter), Nathan Slager (right-side hitter) and Selah Smith (middle hitter).
Sophomore McCord Riegler (right-side hitter) is another looking to contribute.
"The really cool thing is that of those 10 seniors, I believe eight have played all four years, and that's really unheard of," Sage said. "We have some decent height and we're very athletic."
Softball team returns talented nucleus
The softball team returns much of its starting lineup after going 20-9 and winning a sixth consecutive Division I district championship last season.
But according to 19th-year coach Jim Campolo, how successful the Lions may end up being this year depends on their pitching.
Senior Lauren Ringhiser, who went 8-3 last season, is expected to fill the No. 1 pitching role, with senior Sam Lindsey and sophomore Claire Malling also likely to see time in the circle.
Gahanna opened at The Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where it lost to Geneseo (Illinois) 14-1 on March 25, lost to Maple Park (Illinois) Kaneland 6-3 on March 26, beat Erie (Pennsylvania) McDowell 7-6 on March 27, lost to Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Loyalsock 9-6 on March 28 and defeated Uniontown Green 7-4 on March 29.
The Lions will open OCC-Ohio action Wednesday, April 10, at Reynoldsburg.
"If our pitching comes through, we'll be a handful," Campolo said. "We'll hit with anybody. It's just a matter of pitching."
Ringhiser, who hit .420 with six home runs and 42 RBI last season while earning second-team all-league honors, will be in center field when she's not pitching. Freshman Juju Morris also plays center field.
Seniors Ashley Waters (2B), Molly Troutman (SS) and Alaina Marcum (3B) are returning starters on the infield. Troutman is an Ohio University commit who hit .520 with seven home runs and 32 RBI last season while earning first-team all-district and honorable mention all-state honors.
Junior Caroline Heller, who batted .390 with 21 RBI and was honorable mention all-league, is at catcher.
Lindsey will play first base when she's not pitching.
Senior Audra Ledbetter is in right field, with junior Sydney Neville and sophomore Kelsey Cripe both expected to see playing time in left field. Neville scored 22 runs last season while serving mostly as a courtesy runner.
Sophomores Danielle Shoulders and Emma Upton are others looking to contribute.
Both Lindsey and Ledbetter have committed to Wittenberg, Ringhiser has committed to Towson and Marcum will play for Sinclair Junior College.
The biggest losses from last season were 2018 graduates Addie Kittel and Gracey Day, who are playing for Lehigh and Capital, respectively. Kittel batted .610 with program-records of 22 home runs and 65 RBI and also went 12-5 in the circle while making first-team all-state, and Day hit .380 with 34 RBI and was special mention all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Baseball team expects to have sound defense
The baseball team played its first game against a team from central Ohio on April 1 at Olentangy.
Gahanna opened last week in Cocoa Beach, Florida. The Lions defeated Bloomington (Illinois) 12-1 on March 25 and New York Birch Wathen Lenox 12-0 on March 27 before splitting a pair of games on March 28, defeating St. Charles (Illinois) North 5-3 and losing to Menomonee Falls (Wisconsin) 10-4.
Gahanna begins OCC-Ohio action Friday, April 5, at Reynoldsburg.
According to 28th-year coach Mike Shade, the Lions will lean on their versatility and up-the-middle defense particularly early on as their pitching staff forms.
"Defensively, we're going to be sound," said Shade, whose team went 15-11 last season. "Offensively, we've got some potential. We'll be young, but I hope we'll be productive. They've played a lot of baseball and we want these guys to play loose."
Seniors Noah Laurent and Chase Coleman are returnees at shortstop and second base, respectively. Last season, Laurent hit .452 with 15 RBI and 22 runs and was first-team all-district and second-team all-league.
Junior left-fielder Max Bowman, who bats in the middle of the lineup, homered in the win over Bloomington.
Junior Alex Streitenberger, who was special mention all-league last season while seeing time at second base and pitcher, is now playing at third base.
Juniors John Belli and Luke Baker are at first base, junior Blake Reed will see time at catcher and pitcher and senior Jacob Hymrod is another catcher.
Senior Taylor Galbraith also could see time at catcher as well as in the outfield, junior Evan Wolf is at center field and also is a pitching option and junior Darius Whitfield is another outfielder looking to contribute.
Senior Ryan McMurray was the winning pitcher against Bloomington.
Senior Danny Bossart and sophomore Zach Marzetz are other options in the starting rotation and juniors Jack McNulty and Jacob Shute also should see time on the mound.
Other pitchers in the program include junior Mason Weber, who is expected to return from an injury in mid- to late-April, and senior Dylan Swenson, who could be out until May with an injury.
"We have so many different ways we can go with these guys because they're incredibly versatile, so it's pretty nice," Shade said. "With so many new faces in the lineup, this team should compete pretty well, but it just depends on how the pitching staff is going to hold up."
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*April 5 -- At Reynoldsburg
*April 8 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
April 9 -- At DeSales
*April 10 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
*April 4 -- At Pickerington North
*April 9 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson
*April 4 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
April 6 -- At Chillicothe
*April 8 -- At Hilliard Davidson
April 4 -- Home vs. Marysville
April 8 -- Home vs. Westerville North
*April 10 -- At Reynoldsburg
April 4 -- At Westerville Central
April 8 -- At Hilliard Bradley
*April 9 -- At Reynoldsburg
TRACK & FIELD
April 5 -- Panther Invitational at Hilliard Darby
April 8 -- At Hilliard Darby
*April 4 -- Home vs. New Albany
April 6 -- At Olentangy Orange
*April 9 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington