The Worthington Kilbourne High School boys volleyball team has plenty to work on as it prepares for the second half of the regular season and the Division II postseason.
"We only lost two starters from last season and these boys have the talent and skills to be very good, but for the life of me, I can't understand how we can lose focus and have as many unforced errors as we've been having at times," third-year coach Meladee Hopkins said. "We're 6-3 (overall before playing Thomas on April 16) and in two of our losses, we just imploded."
The Wolves also were 3-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before April 16. They lost to defending league champion Hilliard Darby 25-21, 25-15, 25-14 on April 2. The Panthers are seeking their 14th consecutive state tournament appearance and 19th consecutive league title.
The other two losses, however, didn't sit well with Hopkins.
Kilbourne fell to Hilliard Bradley 25-15, 25-17, 18-25, 23-25, 15-12 on April 4 and lost to Olentangy 26-28, 25-18, 25-18 in the Spike for Tykes tournament April 13 at the University of Mount Union.
"Darby is Darby and they've been to the (Division I) state championship match the past two years," Hopkins said. "We made a nice comeback against Bradley, but we shouldn't have had to come back. We had 66 unforced errors in those five games.
"Against Olentangy, we pulled out the first (game), but then completely imploded. We went 2-1 (in the Spike for Tykes tournament) and placed third in our bracket, but that left a bad taste in our mouth."
The Wolves have been led by senior Tanner Smith (middle hitter) and juniors Braydon Biehn (libero), Joe Dargenio (middle hitter), Ethan Nestingen (setter) and Jimmy Sauder (outside hitter).
"Tanner, Jimmy, Braydon and Joe are third-year varsity players," Hopkins said. "Tanner is pretty consistent and Braydon picked up where he left off last season, despite missing the entire basketball season with a patella tendon tear. Joe is blocking well and can really put it down and Jimmy has been solid all around."
Junior Garrett Meeks (outside hitter) and sophomores Kieran Cummings (setter) and Aiden Novotny (right-side hitter) are other key players.
"Garrett is coming around and has a tremendous jump serve and he played very well at Mount Union," Hopkins said. "Kieran and Aiden are adjusting to the speed of the game and Aiden is proving to be a good blocker."
Other contributors are seniors Evan Fisher (middle hitter), Liam Pierce (outside hitter) and Caden Stiffler (defensive specialist/setter) and juniors Ethan Bartram (outside hitter) and Ben Mormile (right-side hitter).
"We're going to continue to stress maintaining our focus and strive to play to our ability as we prepare for the postseason," Hopkins said. "The whole goal is to be playing our best at the end of the regular season and carry that into the regional."
Softball team picks up first victories
After a rough start to the season, the softball team broke through for its first victories on April 13.
The Wolves defeated Centennial 4-1 and Franklin Heights 19-3 in a three-team home doubleheader.
Kilbourne was 2-13 overall and 0-7 in the OCC-Cardinal after an 8-5 loss at Thomas on April 15.
"The girls deserved to get our first wins because they've been working hard and you could see the improvement they've been making," coach Mike North said. "Even in the losses, we had been becoming more competitive as we've gone along."
After losing their first six games by run-rule, the Wolves lost to West Jefferson 6-4 and Olentangy 13-5 on April 6, Dublin Scioto 6-0 on April 8, Big Walnut 6-5 on April 9 and Olentangy Berlin 7-5 on April 11.
Their lone run-rule loss during that stretch came against Delaware, 10-0 on April 10.
"We're pretty young and we have to play real good defense to keep us in games," North said. "Our defense and hitting have been improving. Come tournament time, we're going to surprise some teams, hopefully.
"Lora Snodgrass has been pitching well lately. Our second baseman, Claire Ogden, is our leading hitter and playing defense well. Morgan Beals has moved to shortstop and is doing a good job, and our catcher, Olivia Judy, is a junior who has been the heart and soul of this team. She's been giving 100 percent to this program during the offseason and all through the season. She wants to be there and wants to get better and she wants to make the team better."
North said sophomore Ava Hayes, the team's leading hitter last season, has just returned from injury.
"I'm hoping we can build off the wins and continue to play well like we have for the past few weeks," North said.
Track teams set for Fulton Relays
The track and field teams are looking to build off their previous meet when they compete in the Fulton Relays on Thursday, April 18, at Lancaster.
The boys team finished ninth (34.5 points) in the 16-team Joe Lenge Dublin Classic on April 13 at Dublin Coffman, behind champion Pickerington Central (142).
Tanner Williams was runner-up in the 3,200 meters (9 minutes, 36.72 seconds) and was on the second-place distance medley relay with Asa Compton, John Cuozzo and Jack Begley (16:05.59) and on the third-place 3,200 relay with Begley, Cuozzo and Gabe Knuth (8:35.85).
Begley also was third in the 1,600 (4:38.79).
The girls team finished 11th (18) in the Dublin Classic, behind champion Thomas (95).
The 3,200 relay of Sylvia Long, Victoria Stavish, Riley Tate and Natalie Guist placed fourth (10:35.57), the distance medley relay of Stavish, Long, Elise Elliott and Sasha Bomser was fifth (13:48.45), the 1,600 relay of Bomser, Guist, Stavish and Maggie Stewart placed sixth (4:19.74) and Chidima Anaraodo finished sixth in the shot put (34 feet, 1 inch).
Below are the coming schedules for the Kilbourne baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
April 18 -- Home vs. Marion Elgin
April 20 -- At Hilliard Davidson
*April 22 -- At Hilliard Bradley
*April 24 -- At Dublin Scioto
April 18 -- At Hilliard Davidson
*April 23 -- At Dublin Scioto
April 18 -- Home vs. Olentangy
*April 22 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
*April 18 -- At Hilliard Darby. The Wolves lost to the Panthers 16-0 on April 3.
April 20 -- At Olentangy Liberty (DH)
*April 22 -- At Hilliard Bradley. The Wolves lost to the Jaguars 15-3 on April 4.
*April 24 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto. The Wolves lost to the Irish 6-0 on April 8.
*April 18 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
*April 23 -- At Thomas
TRACK & FIELD
April 18 -- Fulton Relays at Lancaster
April 23 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
*April 18 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome
*April 22 -- At Hilliard Darby. The Wolves lost to the Panthers 25-21, 25-15, 25-14 on April 2.
*April 23 -- At Hilliard Bradley. The Wolves lost to the Jaguars 25-15, 25-17, 18-25, 23-25, 15-12