The Gahanna Lincoln girls volleyball team looks to be well on its way to surpassing its win total from a year ago when it finished 11-11.
Returnees such as middle hitter Anna Nie have been vital to the Lions taking a step forward.
One of three seniors, Nie has been filling a key offensive role, as have senior outside hitter Lexi Tatum and junior outside hitter Kortney Grimm.
The Lions were 7-2 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Grove City on Sept. 10.
"It's definitely a growing season for us," Nie said. "We lost (five) good seniors last year, but a lot of our underclassmen have definitely stepped up this year. We have a lot of great juniors and two great sophomores. Every game we get more cohesive, and that was a struggle early on."
The 6-foot Nie emerged as the team's leader in kills last season. She's also been asked to take on an increased leadership role as a commit to Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.
"She's been tough up on the net, aggressive on the net," coach Molly Martin said. "We still need to get her blocking and we've got to get her more touches on the ball. She's trying to be as vocal as possible. She wants to leave something behind. With the team that we have, her being that vocal leader will be a good steppingstone for her to get into the college scene."
Tatum finished second on the team in kills last season and has been among the team's leaders offensively again this year.
Juniors Emily Schweitzer (middle hitter) and Sophia Hill (right-side hitter) and sophomore Kendall White (setter/right-side hitter) also have taken on key roles in the Lions' offense, which features senior Kailey Mishler at setter. Schweitzer is a transfer from DeSales.
Nie has two older siblings who attended DeSales, including 2016 graduate Jenna Nie, who played girls lacrosse, but elected to attend Gahanna. She's considering studying marketing and graphic design in college.
"I love Gahanna," Nie said. "It's kind of overwhelming when you first look at it because there's so many kids, but when you find your niche, you're fine."
Martin is hoping her team continues to mature as the schedule toughens. Gahanna plays an OCC-Ohio match at Pickerington Central on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Last season, the Lions finished third in the league last year at 7-3 behind co-champions Central and Grove City (both 8-2).
"We've had our ups and downs," Martin said. "We just need to have that killer instinct, that will and the want to win against good programs and we've got to stop the runs."
Girls golfers finish third in league
The parity in the OCC-Ohio in girls golf was apparent this season.
Gahanna finished first in the opening round of the four-round league tournament Aug. 7 with a 351 at Blacklick Woods, but Grove City won two of the next three rounds and finished 18-2 in the league, ahead of runner-up Pickerington North (16-4) and third-place Gahanna (13-7).
The Lions shot a 379 in the final round Sept. 4 at Mentel Memorial to finish fourth as Grove City shot a 344 to secure its first league title.
Junior Elise Wenz averaged 82.7 to finish fifth overall in the tournament and earn first-team all-league honors, with sophomores Molly Cepek and Taylor Patterson averaging 93 and 94, respectively, to make the second team. Freshman Cee Cee Holmes, who played in three rounds of the league tournament and averaged 99, was honorable mention all-league.
Two of the Lions' three seniors, Alexis Buck and Alexis Harris, also saw action in league matches.
"Elise (is our) No. 1, followed by Molly Cepek," coach Chase Huddle said. "(Cepek) practiced all summer and has been getting much, much better."
The Lions compete against Hartley on Thursday, Sept. 12, at Jefferson and then are off for 11 days before competing in three other matches before the postseason.
The Division I postseason drawing will be held Sunday, Sept. 15, with the sectionals to be held Oct. 1 and 2.
Boys golfers battle for league title
The boys golf team competed in the final round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Sept. 11 at Turnberry.
Through three rounds, the Lions were second in the league at 11-4 behind Pickerington Central (12-3), with Pickerington North (10-5) and Grove City (9-6) not far behind.
Gahanna won the OCC-Ohio title each of the past two seasons, including a year ago when it went 20-0 in league action.
Through three rounds, junior Mitchell Soma was leading the league with a 75.7 average. Senior Dylan Errington (80) had the Lions' second-best league average, followed by sophomore Evan Henry (81.7) and junior Max Hahn (82.3).
Soma won the opening round of the league tournament Aug. 6 at Darby Creek with a 72 and shared medalist honors with Reynoldsburg's Jamison Boykins with a 73 on Aug. 12 at Apple Valley. Errington was runner-up with a 76 in the third round Aug. 27 at Denison Golf Club.
Gahanna has five events remaining before the postseason, including a match Wednesday, Sept. 18, against Pickerington Central at Little Turtle.
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 18 -- Pickerington Central at Little Turtle
Sept. 12 -- Hartley at Jefferson
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 17 -- At Pickerington North
*Sept. 14 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
*Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
Sept. 18 -- At Hilliard Darby
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Lancaster
Sept. 14 -- At Watkins Memorial
*Sept. 17 -- At Pickerington Central