Notebook: Olentangy Braves boys volleyball team poised for big season

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Sam Irwin and the Olentangy boys volleyball team are working to continue the program's recent run of success. The Braves were 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Hilliard Darby on April 15.

First-year Olentangy boys volleyball coach Emi Holsclaw hopes the Braves are poised to continue a recent run of success that has seen them win 81 matches the past four seasons, especially with two college recruits on the floor.

Seniors Max Kaiser (setter) and Jacob Nussdorfer (opposite hitter), both Mount Union recruits, are among a handful of returnees for Olentangy, which was 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Hilliard Darby on April 15.

Classmates Sam Irwin (middle hitter) and Sam Kaylor (outside hitter) also are back from the 2019 team that went 17-8 overall and 7-1 in the OCC-Buckeye, tying for first place a year after Olentangy reached a Division I state quarterfinal. That followed consecutive regional runner-up finishes.

“We have had a strong work ethic in the gym from all players with several versatile, trained athletes who can compete for playing time in multiple positions and we are looking forward to growing and trying different things,” said Holsclaw, a 2004 graduate of Dublin Coffman who went on to play at Toledo. “Some talented underclassmen are pushing our older guys and may have the ability to contribute right away.”

Other early contributors have included senior Tyler Mandlekorn (outside hitter) and freshmen Gavin Grover (middle hitter) and Max Gutierrez (defensive specialist/libero).

•The Liberty girls lacrosse team bounced back from its first loss to beat Hilliard Davidson 20-3 on April 13 as it improved to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Central.

Sophomore midfielder Makenna Harrington, who had a combined 12 goals and seven assists in her first two prep games, and sophomore attacker Lexi Bird have led the offense, with junior Ava Guagenti leading the defense.

The Patriots, who opened with wins over Berlin (18-1 on March 23), Worthington Kilbourne (15-7 on March 25), Hilliard Bradley (24-2 on April 7) and Granville (9-5 on April 8), lost to Hudson 12-10 on April 10.

“We’ve been moving the ball really well,” coach Tim Bosco said. “They’re jelling offensively and playing really good defense, too. We’ve been really solid defensively from their ride to the 8-meter.

“Makenna Harrington is only a sophomore but she plays on a national club team and is getting recruited by high (Division I) colleges like Ohio State and Stanford.”

—Jarrod Ulrey

•With the Liberty softball team hitting .414 through its first seven games, coach Ty Kashmiry expects the Patriots to be competitive all season if that continues.

Senior Dani Schoenly, juniors Ashley Chevalier and Lindsey Leeds and freshman Brooke Aberle have led the way offensively for the Patriots, who were 6-3 after losing 8-5 to Newark on April 14.

Leeds has been serving as No. 1 pitcher.

Chevalier hit a home run in the eighth inning to give Liberty a 4-3 victory over Buckeye Valley on April 7.

Juniors Tyler Krohn and Lacy Thompson and freshman Allie Jenkins also have been regulars in the lineup.

“We have a tough schedule,” Kashmiry said. “They’re young and it’s been a little bit of an adjustment. I’m really happy with what we’ve seen. We’ve had two walk-offs, one (in an 18-17 win April 2 over) New Albany on a walk and a home run walk-off against Buckeye Valley.”

—Jarrod Ulrey

•The Orange baseball team got out to an impressive start, winning its first nine contests. The Pioneers also were 2-0 in the OCC-Central before playing Coffman on April 16.

Orange scored 87 runs through nine games and surrendered 23, making its average score 9.7 to 2.6.

Cole Cahill led with a .516 batting average and had 10 RBI, eight runs and three triples, and Connor Till was batting .500 with nine RBI, six runs and a team-high .643 on-base percentage

Josh Laisure was hitting .481 with nine RBI and eight runs, and Caden Konczak was batting .438 with 11 RBI, 12 runs, five doubles, three triples and seven stolen bases. Logan Shearer was batting .423 with one home run, 10 RBI and six runs, and Sam Sells was hitting .389 with five RBI and seven runs.

Austin Knupp was batting .385 with five RBI and 11 runs, and Matt Wolfe was hitting .375 with one homer, seven RBI, 12 runs and nine stolen bases.

—Scott Hennen

•The Orange girls lacrosse team was 0-5 before playing Olentangy on April 15.

The Pioneers were 0-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Coffman on April 20. They lost to top-ranked Upper Arlington 18-0 on April 6 in league play.

“They dominated the draw control, and they did a great job possessing the ball and being patient for the best shot,” coach Mike Harrington said. “When we gained possession, UA turned us over quite a bit in transition. ... We only had four shots on goal for the game.”

Through five games, Ellie Beck led the Pioneers with 13 goals, and Jordan Sullivan had nine. Jenna Durst and Raneem Ali both had six goals, and goalie Abigail Struntz had 51 saves.

—Scott Hennen

•Ryan Horstman has been a force offensively for the Berlin baseball team, which was 6-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Darby on April 16.

Through nine games, Horstman led the Bears in batting average (.516), homers (2), RBI (17), runs (19), doubles (6), triples (4), stolen bases (7), on-base percentage (.615) and slugging percentage (1.161). As a team, Berlin was hitting .366.

Jake Kinkead was hitting .500 with four RBI, 10 runs and an on-base percentage of .577, and Parker McDaniels was batting .458 with six RBI and five runs. Mitch Herbst had a .440 batting average with 12 RBI and seven runs, and Matt Barreca was hitting .370 with six RBI and 13 runs.

Jacob Moeller was hitting .343 with one homer, 11 RBI and six runs, and Mac Moore was batting .323 with four RBI and six runs. 

—Scott Hennen

•The Berlin boys lacrosse team, which won only two games in its inaugural 2019 season, improved to 5-3 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Cardinal by defeating Darby 10-6 on April 13.

The Bears also defeated Marysville 15-3 on April 6 for their other league victory. They were averaging 9.4 goals through eight contests and giving up 8.1 per game.

Gavin Angell led the Bears in scoring with 27 goals and 13 assists through seven games. Zack Zielinski had 10 goals, Drew Haver had nine and goalie Sam Warner had 84 saves.

—Scott Hennen

•Pending school board approval, John Ballmer will be the new Olentangy girls basketball coach.

Ballmer spent the past four seasons in the Braves’ boys program, the past two as junior varsity coach and the two before that as freshman coach. He coached the Shanahan Middle School seventh-grade girls team from 2012-16.

“I told (boys coach John) Feasel probably a year or two ago that the only way I’d leave his program is if a head-coaching position were to open up,” said Ballmer, who is an intervention aide at the high school. “I don’t have to go anywhere and I can see the student-athletes I’ll be coaching every day. To me, that’s very important.”

Ballmer succeeds Kate Cummings, who went 33-33 in three seasons.

The Braves advanced to a Division I district semifinal this past season, losing to Logan 52-44 to finish 12-9 overall and 6-4 in the OCC-Cardinal.

A few key players are eligible to return in sophomores Paige Pawlikowski (center), Reagan Richeson (forward) and Jonna Spohn (guard). Richeson averaged 7.2 points and 6.7 rebounds, and Spohn averaged 6.4 points.

—Dave Purpura

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