With three returning starters and nine new players on her roster, New Albany girls volleyball coach Karen Morlan is mixing lofty expectations with a realization that it might take some time for the Eagles to jell.
Senior libero Kacy Morlan, junior defensive specialist Olivia Gittins and sophomore outside hitter Emily Heintzelman return from last year's team that went 13-10 overall and 7-3 in the OCC-Capital Division.
"While we do return three varsity players from last season, we have added nine new players (and) many of them had not previously played on the same team with each other. We are working through that," said coach Morlan, who is in her 10th season. "My expectations are high for this season. I love the girls' positive attitudes. They are working hard to better themselves individually, but they are also extremely supportive of one another and that will make the difference in what we achieve."
Despite their unfamiliarity, the Eagles were 4-3 before playing Gahanna on Aug. 27.
New Albany went 2-1 in the season-opening Spikefest on Aug. 17 at Marysville, defeating Dublin Jerome 21-25, 25-18, 25-23 and Chillicothe 25-23, 25-21 and losing to Pickerington North 25-14, 25-18.
The Eagles then won 25-22, 18-25, 25-21, 18-25, 16-14 at Westerville North on Aug. 20 and defeated Reynoldsburg 25-9, 23-25, 25-18, 25-14 in their home opener two nights later.
New Albany was swept in a home tri Aug. 24, losing to Upper Arlington 20-25, 25-16, 25-21 and Worthington Kilbourne 25-18, 25-19.
Rounding out the roster are senior Andrea Page (middle blocker/right-side hitter), juniors Madison Briggs (defensive specialist), Hope Cook (middle blocker/right-side hitter), Haley Dennis (setter), Julia Goldhardt (opposite hitter/defensive specialist), Riley McNabb (opposite hitter/middle blocker) and Olivia Machado (defensive specialist/outside hitter) and sophomores Sydney Arlin (opposite hitter/setter) and Daniel Rank (opposite hitter/middle blocker).
Junior Gabi Tagaloa and sophomore Sydney Tagaloa, both of whom played outside hitter and setter and combined for 235 assists last season, moved to Nevada to be closer to family.
New Albany begins league play Tuesday, Sept. 3, at home against Newark. The Eagles finished second behind Big Walnut (10-0) last season.
Heintzelman had 118 kills last year, and Kacy Morlan had a team-high 334 digs.
Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 31 -- Granville Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion
*Sept. 3 -- At Lancaster
Sept. 4 -- At Olentangy
Aug. 31 -- Pinnacle Classic at Pinnacle
Sept. 3 -- New Albany Invitational at New Albany Country Club
Sept. 4 -- OCC-Central at Blacklick Woods
Sept. 3 -- At Pickerington Central
Aug. 31 -- At West Chester Lakota West
Sept. 3 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
*Aug. 29 -- Home vs. Groveport
*Sept. 3 -- At Canal Winchester
Aug. 29 -- At Pickerington Central
*Sept 3 -- Home vs. Newark