Girls Volleyball: Dublin Scioto works to meet big expectations
The Dublin Scioto girls volleyball team entered the season with hopes of repeating as league champion and then making a postseason run.
A year ago, the Irish finished 23-3 overall and shared the OCC-Cardinal Division title with Hilliard Bradley at 13-1. They advanced to a Division I district final before losing to Watterson 25-23, 25-21, 25-21.
"We are trying to work through the balance of the expectation to be good, but still not being satisfied with just winning," said coach Jackie Wilson, who is in her 11th season. "There's a lot of room to grow even with a good team. We expect to challenge for an OCC championship again and we expect to be back in a district final. We have a lot to do to get there."
Scioto opened Aug. 22 by defeating Bradley 25-15, 25-15, 25-21 in a non-league match.
The Irish are now playing in the OCC-Capital with Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Delaware, Franklin Heights, Westerville North, Westerville South and Worthington Kilbourne.
Scioto began league play by defeating South 25-12, 25-4, 25-12 on Aug. 27 at home.
"Kilbourne is always pretty good and being a rivalry game, we look forward to that one," said Wilson, who shared OCC-Cardinal Coach of the Year honors with Bradley's RyAnne Ufferman last season. "Big Walnut is traditionally pretty good, too, so I'm sure we'll have our hands full."
The Irish return four players led by senior outside hitter Karleigh Rothe, who was named first-team all-district and all-league last season.
"We have a lot of growth," Rothe said. "We're already at a stage where we know we can do good things on the court where we can push ourselves and we expect an OCC (title) this year because we feel we can obtain that goal. We can push ourselves even more this year than we did years before."
Junior libero Ayva Leon was second-team all-league, and senior opposite hitter Ashleigh Rothe was honorable mention all-league.
Ashleigh and Karleigh Rothe are twins.
Also back is senior setter Abby Leonard.
"We have four girls back and we're going to rely pretty heavily on them, but even with their experience, we're asking them to expand their roles a little bit and do more than they did last year," Wilson said. "They're working through some of those changes. We have a younger group of kids in the mix, too."
Other players are senior Alexis Hoover (defensive specialist), juniors Erin Bush (outside hitter) and Madi Comstock (defensive specialist), sophomore Taylor Jenkins (middle blocker) and freshmen Jayla Collins (outside hitter/middle blocker), Alec Rothe (middle blocker) and Sophia Schwab (defensive specialist).
Alec Rothe, who is 6-foot-1, is the sister of Ashleigh and Karleigh.
"Alec is big and she has room to grow, but she plays better than a freshman now," Wilson said.
A key loss to graduation was outside hitter Lauren Erickson, who was first-team all-league and second-team all-district last season.
Shamrocks look for return to heyday
Although it won its 13th league championship in a row and extended its string of consecutive league victories to 155 last fall, Coffman did not win a postseason match.
Among the goals for new coach Max Miller is recapturing the district success the Shamrocks enjoyed while going 297-51 with five Division I state tournament appearances in 13 seasons under former coach Mary Anne Souder.
Miller spent the past three seasons as the coach for the University of Northwestern Ohio.
Also the club director of Mintonette since 2006, Miller coached Hartley to a Division II state runner-up finish in 2007 and to a state title in 2011. He followed a 13-year tenure with that program by coaching Watterson from 2013-16.
Alisa Franklin, who coached Gahanna from 2013-16 and led that team to a win over Watterson in a 2015 district final and then to a regional runner-up loss to Coffman in 2016, is serving as an assistant.
Kim Atherton was the coach last season when the Shamrocks went 12-10 overall and 10-0 in the OCC-Central.
"Obviously, Coffman's got the history of being a top-notch program," Miller said. "None of these kids have won a district title, so it's really a young program we're taking over and we're trying to re-energize it."
Coffman, which had a string of 12 consecutive district titles end last season, was 2-0 before playing Toledo St. Ursula on Sept. 1. The Shamrocks are joined in the OCC-Central by Olentangy Liberty, which they'll open league action against Sept. 10, as well as Olentangy Orange, Hilliard Davidson, Bradley and Upper Arlington.
Leading the way are senior Anna Dorenkott (setter/outside hitter) and sophomores Ella Durham (outside hitter/middle hitter), Leah Shumate (outside hitter) and Annabelle Straty (libero/defensive specialist).
Senior Erin Peebles (outside hitter) and junior Ruby Moore (outside hitter/middle hitter) also are returnees.
Others in the program include senior Julia Donegan (middle hitter/outside hitter), juniors Maiha Ashida (defensive specialist), Audrey Bajeca (defensive specialist), Cara Bartemes (defensive specialist), Elizabeth Froling (defensive specialist), Katy McCaffrey (middle hitter) and Megan Mullins (defensive specialist) and freshmen Rachael Kiley (defensive specialist) and Grace Thomas (middle hitter/right-side hitter).
Dorenkott is 5-10, Durham is 6-2, Moore is 5-11 and Thomas is 6-0.
Celtics building toward success
Third-year Jerome coach Randy Cline isn't sure what his team will look like later this season, but he believes the growth he's seen so far is a positive indicator.
Although the Celtics were 0-3 before playing Reynoldsburg on Sept. 1, they have just one returning senior and have numerous sophomores and juniors gaining experience.
After going 16-9 and reaching a Division I district semifinal in 2018, Jerome went 9-13 overall last year and had its season end with a first-round tournament loss.
"We're young," Cline said. "I think it's a great group. It's the strongest overall program we've had, from freshmen all the way through. ... We've got to distribute the ball better. Once we get our middles and our right-side (hitters) acclimated a little bit more, we're going to be good in a couple weeks."
Jerome placed fourth (6-8) in the OCC-Cardinal last season and is joined in the realigned league by Hilliard Darby, Marysville, Olentangy, Olentangy Berlin and Thomas Worthington. The league opener is Sept. 10 at home against Thomas.
Senior outside hitter Jaci Carpenter, who led the team in kills last season, juniors Paige Wleklinski (middle hitter) and Caroline Zimovan (outside hitter) and sophomores Brooke Carpenter (setter) and Surabhi Surinivasan (outside hitter) are the top returnees. Wleklinski is 6-1 and Jaci Carpenter is 6-0.
Paulina Esquerra (libero/defensive specialist) rounds out the senior class.
Others on the team are juniors Holly Blazek (defensive specialist), Shivani Gogineni (outside hitter/right-side hitter), Adeline Racan (defensive specialist), Meghan Tachetti (setter) and Ashley Westerheide (right-side hitter/middle hitter), sophomores Grace Andrews (setter), Cali Judge (middle hitter) and Ella Wolshire (outside hitter/right-side hitter) and freshmen Taylor Bahnub (right-side hitter/middle hitter) and Isabelle Coplan (libero).
Judge is 6-0 and Bahnub and Westerheide are 5-11.
At a glance
*Coach: Max Miller, first season
*Top players: Anna Dorenkott, Ella Durham, Ruby Moore, Erin Peebles, Leah Shumate and Annabelle Straty
*Key losses: Angel Barrett and Sadie Brown
*Last season: 12-10 overall
*2019 OCC-Central standings: Coffman (10-0), Upper Arlington (8-2), Hilliard Davidson (5-5), Marysville (4-6), Central Crossing (3-7), Westland (0-10)
*2019 postseason: Lost to Big Walnut 25-18, 25-19, 25-21 in second round of Division I district tournament
*Coach: Randy Cline, third season
*Top players: Brooke Carpenter, Jaci Carpenter, Surabhi Surinivasan, Paige Wleklinski and Caroline Zimovan
*Key losses: Kylie Carpenter, Tess Hollern, Jenn Lee, Katie McKibben and Bella Palmer
*Last season: 9-13 overall
*2019 OCC-Cardinal standings: Scioto and Hilliard Bradley (13-1), Kilbourne (10-4), Jerome and Darby (6-8), Delaware (5-9), Olentangy Berlin (2-12), Thomas Worthington (1-13)
*2019 postseason: Lost to Delaware 23-25, 25-17, 25-7, 25-23 in first round of Division I district tournament
*Coach: Jackie Wilson, 11th season
*Top players: Abby Leonard, Ayva Leon, Ashleigh Rothe and Karleigh Rothe
*Key losses: Lena Beasley, Alex Birko, Marlae Davis and Lauren Erickson
*Last season: 23-3 overall
*OCC-Cardinal standings: Scioto and Bradley (13-1), Kilbourne (10-4), Jerome and Darby (6-8), Delaware (5-9), Berlin (2-12), Thomas (1-13)
*2019 postseason: Def. Northland 25-1, 25-10, 25-3; def. Reynoldsburg 25-21, 25-15, 25-20; def. Gahanna 20-25, 25-7, 25-17, 25-21; lost to Watterson 25-23, 25-21, 25-21 in Division I district final