Notebook: Olentangy Liberty girls volleyball squad in league title hunt

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Kacey Hilvert and the Liberty girls volleyball squad are 
battling first-place Orange for the OCC-Central title despite a few injuries to Patriots players.

With a little less than half of its regular season remaining, the Olentangy Liberty girls volleyball team is in the hunt for the OCC-Central Division title while trying to set itself up for a high seed in the Division I district tournament. 

The Patriots also are seeking better health as they attempt to achieve both of those pursuits. 

While junior middle hitter Michelle Ezenekwe didn’t play during the team’s first 11 matches because of an injury, senior middle hitter Ali Sebenoler has battled a chronic knee problem and sophomore middle hitter Katherine Donahue also has missed time with an injury. 

Liberty was 8-3 overall and 4-1 in the league after falling 25-22, 25-14, 25-19 to Orange on Sept. 24, with its other losses coming to defending Division I state champion DeSales and defending Division I district champion Watterson. 

The Pioneers improved to 5-0 in the OCC-Central with the victory. 

Seniors Logan Flaugh (setter), Abby Roubinek (outside hitter/right-side hitter), Madison Tinsley (libero/defensive specialist) and Sebenoler and junior McKenna Cook (outside hitter) have been among the team’s top players, according to coach Jen Chapman. 

“We’re still working to get healthy and getting things figured out,” Chapman said. “I would say we’ve been serving pretty aggressively and then just trying to be pretty scrappy on defense.  

“In the front row we’re spreading the ball out to all of our hitters. I would say we’re not really dominant toward one hitter, so those are the things we’re doing the best.” 

•The Liberty boys and girls golf teams are preparing for the postseason. 

The boys received the third seed for the postseason and open with a Division I sectional Tuesday, Oct. 6, at Turnberry. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 13 at Apple Valley. 

The boys have been led by senior Grant Smeltzer and juniors Jack O’Donnell and Jack Snyder, all of whom were first-team all-league as the Patriots shared the OCC-Central title with Orange. 

The girls team is seeded fifth and is the third-highest seed in the sectional Tuesday, Oct. 6, at Mentel Memorial behind second-seeded Dublin Coffman and third-seeded Pickerington North. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 13 at New Albany Links. 

Senior Gracie Baunm was the OCC-Buckeye Player of the Year as the Patriots won their second consecutive title. Other key players have been senior Juliana Renda and junior Taya Buxton. 

–Jarrod Ulrey 

•The Berlin girls volleyball team has already set program records for overall wins and league victories in a season. 

The Bears had won three consecutive matches before losing to Thomas Worthington 25-17, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23 on Sept. 24 to fall to 7-5 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Cardinal. They won five matches in their inaugural 2018 season and were 1-13 in league play in each of their first two seasons. 

Through 10 matches, Heather Higgins led Berlin with 102 kills, and Elise Brown had a team-high 215 assists with 16 aces. Rozalyn Zielinski had a team-leading 18 blocks, Jenna Boucher led with 103 digs and Morgan Lenix had 16 aces. 

–Scott Hennen 

•Junior Ella Franz went 5-0 in OCC-Cardinal play as the Berlin girls tennis team was third (3-2) in the league behind champion Dublin Jerome (5-0). 

The Bears were 9-5 overall before playing New Albany on Sept. 30. 

Berlin defeated Coffman 3-2 on Sept. 22 behind wins from Franz (first singles), Claire Emanuel and Janna Harris (first doubles) and Emma Reger and Sydney Webb (second doubles). 

–Scott Hennen 

•Beset by injuries and a tough schedule, the Olentangy boys soccer team was 4-7-1 overall before playing Big Walnut on Sept. 26 and fell to 0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 3-1 loss at Thomas on Sept. 22. 

The Braves, who had won two in a row before playing Thomas, have lost a goalie, two forwards and a defender to injuries and seen their varsity roster decrease from 18 to 14 players. 

Olentangy broke a three-game losing streak with wins over Hartley (4-3 on Sept. 17) and Licking Heights (2-1 on Sept. 19). 

“Our struggle early on is not a reflection of our quality of play, but rather the quality of our opponents,” coach Kyle Hamrick said. “Our roster is still very strong. We believe we can make a run at the OCC and in the tournament.” 

–Dave Purpura 

•A 163-209 win over Buckeye Valley on Sept. 23 capped one of the better regular seasons in Olentangy girls golf history. 

The Braves finished with 79 wins, which according to coach Micah Conley is the second most in program history. They are seeded seventh for the postseason, which begins with a Division I sectional Tuesday, Oct. 6, at Blacklick Woods. 

The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 13 at New Albany Links. 

The lineup has been led by first-team all-OCC-Buckeye honoree Olivia Drankwalter and second-team all-league performer Lauren Sommerfeld, the team’s only senior. Rounding out the top five are Kimmy Archer, Claudia Novak and Gretchen Stoner. 

–Dave Purpura 

•The Orange girls tennis team had its streak of two consecutive league championships snapped when it finished 2-3 in the OCC-Central, behind champion Upper Arlington (5-0). 

The Golden Bears have won 31 league championships in the last 32 years. The Pioneers had won OCC-Buckeye titles the past two seasons. 

The Pioneers had won four of five matches before playing Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown on Sept. 26. They defeated Wellington 3-2 on Sept. 21 behind wins from Karol Korotkin (second singles), Tyler Reed (third singles) and Katie Dicken and Ellie Logan (first doubles). 

–Scott Hennen 

•The Orange girls volleyball team remained unbeaten in the OCC-Central with a 25-22, 25-14, 25-19 victory over Liberty on Sept. 24. The Pioneers improved to 10-3 overall and 5-0 in the league.  

Through 12 matches, London Davis had a team-leading 107 kills, and Hanna Borer had a team-high 273 assists along with 106 digs and 13 blocks. 

Addie Evans led in both digs (153) and aces (19), and Tazmin Appiah had 67 kills to go with a team-leading 17 blocks. Molly Shomock had 71 kills, and Arianna Jackson had 13 blocks. 

–Scott Hennen 

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