Notebook: Olentangy Braves boys volleyball team captures Division II regional title

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Olentangy celebrates with the championship trophy after defeating St. Charles 25-23, 22-25, 25-23, 25-17 in the Division II, East Region final May 28 at Westerville Central. It was the Braves' second regional title in three seasons.

The Olentangy boys volleyball team hit its stride at the right time, winning its first three postseason matches after a 12-8 regular season to capture its second Division II, East Region championship in three seasons.

The third-seeded Braves used a late surge to defeat fourth-seeded St. Charles 25-23, 22-25, 25-23, 25-17 in the regional final May 28 at Westerville Central and were 15-8 before playing Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in a state semifinal June 5 at Pickerington Central.

Against St. Charles, Sam Kaylor had 12 kills, nine digs, five aces and two blocks and Jacob Nussdorfer had 13 kills for Olentangy, which scored the final three points of the third game after trailing 23-22 and led throughout the fourth.

“We used emotion well, but I’ve been working with them to not get caught up in that,” coach Emi Holsclaw said. “We celebrate, then refocus and go forward. We say ‘next ball, next play, next thing’ a lot.

“At least for me, volleyball is always a game of momentum and it can swing either way. … (St. Charles) made stuff happen. They could come back and swing momentum the other way. We focused on our game plan and the scouting report regardless of the score. Our goal was to play with composure and execute.”

Liberty's Noah Koknat (center) and the rest of the team celebrate after a 25-20, 26-24, 25-18 win over Thomas Worthington in a regional final May 28 at Westerville Central. The Patriots advanced to the Division I state tournament for the first time.

•The top-seeded Liberty boys volleyball team advanced to the Division I state tournament for the first time when it beat sixth-seeded Thomas Worthington 25-20, 26-24, 25-18 in an East Region final May 28 at Westerville Central. 

The Patriots took a 20-3 record into a state quarterfinal June 5 against Cleveland St. Ignatius at Pickerington Central.  

According to coach Dave Hale, who is in his 16th season, the team’s balanced offensive approach — featuring senior middle hitter Cole Young, senior outside hitter Parker Budreau, senior outside hitter Andrew Pugh and junior outside hitter Noah Koknat — provides difficulties for defenses. 

“It’s a great feeling (to make state),” Hale said. “Liberty has played in regional finals before, but they’ve never won the regional final match. One thing I’m really impressed by with this group is that we have really good consistency and we’re really balanced.” 

—Jarrod Ulrey

•The Orange boys volleyball team won its first league championship and finished with its best record during the program’s three seasons.

The fourth-seeded Pioneers finished 14-11 overall, losing 25-20, 25-18, 25-21 to seventh-seeded Dublin Jerome in a Division I, East Region semifinal May 25 at Hilliard Bradley.

Orange won the OCC-Central Division at 10-2.

“The whole mission for the seniors was to leave the program better than when it started,” said coach Karlie Foy, whose teams were 12-11 in 2018 and 9-14 in 2019. “The season ended sooner than we would’ve liked, but our seniors helped bring a winning attitude to the program.”

Senior middle hitter/right-side hitter Luke Little (second-team all-state, first-team all-region and all-league) will play at George Mason after totaling 258 kills, 51 blocks and 63 aces. Senior outside hitter/setter Lawton Hinley (second-team all-region, first-team all-league) had 225 kills, 178 digs and 51 aces.

Senior outside hitter Jake Smith (honorable mention all-region, second-team league), a Charleston recruit, had 196 kills, 27 blocks, 189 digs and 71 aces. Senior libero Alex Heffner (special mention all-league) had 180 digs, junior middle hitter Evan Schultz (honorable mention all-league) had 27 blocks and senior setter Owen Dickson had 644 assists.

—Scott Hennen

•After having his 2019 season end with a first-round loss in doubles in the Division I state tournament, senior Vishnu Bodavula represented the Liberty boys tennis team at state in singles.

Bodavula finished third in the Bradley sectional, was runner-up at district and then opened state with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Hunting Valley University School’s Ben Martin on May 28 at Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Cincinnati. 

In a quarterfinal, he lost to eventual runner-up Vignesh Gogineni of Mason 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-0. 

Bodavula was one of four seniors for the Patriots, who went 8-5 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Central.

“I’ve been focusing on myself the past two weeks and have been playing better every day,” said Bodavula, who will compete for the United States Military Academy at West Point. “We definitely had our ups and downs, but I love my team and it was a great season.” 

Freshman Krish Badri and sophomore Jay Ramakkagari also competed in singles during the postseason. Badri lost in the first round at sectional and Ramakkagari lost in a sectional quarterfinal.

In doubles, seniors Arvind Nair and Nandha Srivenkateswaran finished third at sectional before losing in the first round at district, while sophomore Elijah Polintan and freshman Marcus Bode lost their opening sectional match. 

Others eligible to return include junior Aryaman Dubey and freshman Liam Hand. 

“We’ll have Jay and Krish coming back as two major ones,” coach Adrian Tolentino said. “I expect quite a bit of roster movement from our (junior varsity) guys.” 

—Jarrod Ulrey 

•The Olentangy baseball team played its best late in the season, winning 11 of its final 15 games and finishing 15-13 overall and 9-6 in the OCC-Cardinal, second behind Hilliard Darby (12-3).

The 15th-seeded Braves lost 2-0 at seventh-seeded Darby in a Division I district semifinal May 24.

Several of the team’s top players are eligible to return, including junior Austin Sizemore (P/1B/SS), who led the team in batting average at .493 and became the Braves’ top pitcher late in the season. 

Classmates Tommy Chilicki (P/utility) and Brandon Hire (SS/P) batted .451 and .344, respectively, while senior Jace Middleton (P/CF) batted .329. Middleton is an Ohio State recruit.

Also eligible to return is junior Carter Williamson (P/C/1B).

“What’s so special about these guys is we only have one guy that (had) played varsity baseball and that was Jace. Everybody else was brand new,” coach Ryan Lucas said. “The beginning was rough, but we’re night and day from where we were in March and we really got so much better. It’s a great thing to build on for our younger guys. We have a lot of talent.”

—Dave Purpura

•The Berlin baseball team reached its first Division I district final, falling to top-seeded Orange 5-1 on May 27 to finish 16-13 overall.

“We’re only a second-year program and three of our seniors from last year — Zach Martin, Adam Wallace and Cam Voinovich — were here (at the district final) and they didn’t get a season last year,” said second-year coach Mike Weaver, whose team went 7-8 in the OCC-Cardinal. 

“We’re not just here to build a good baseball program but to build a culture to create good young men. There are a lot of schools a lot older than us that have never been to a district final, so it’s up to our kids coming back to keep that going.”

Senior third baseman Jake Kinkead, a Wilmington recruit, singled home the winning run as the 11th-seeded Bears edged 17th-seeded Pickerington North 4-3 in nine innings May 25 in a district semifinal.

Senior Mitch Herbst (P/DH; honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league) batted .354 with two home runs, a team-high 31 RBI, 17 runs and seven doubles. He has committed to pitch at Marietta after going 5-2 with a 3.11 ERA, 65 strikeouts and 36 walks in 47 1/3 innings.

Senior Ryan Horstman (OF; honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league), a Bryant & Stratton commit, led the Bears in homers (3), runs (29), doubles (9), triples (6) and stolen bases (10). He batted .351 with 25 RBI. 

Kinkead (honorable mention all-district, special mention all-league) had a .341 batting average with 12 RBI, 18 runs and six doubles, and senior Jacob Moeller (OF; honorable mention all-league) batted .302 with one homer, 21 RBI, 20 runs and seven doubles.

Junior Daniel Gladden (P/1B; honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league) pitched a team-leading 51 2/3 innings, going 4-4 with a 4.34 ERA, 42 strikeouts and 34 walks. He also had a team-high .419 batting average with 13 RBI and 12 runs.

Junior Matthew Barreca (SS; honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league) batted .364 with nine RBI, 26 runs and six stolen bases. Freshman Parker McDaniels (C; second-team all-district, honorable mention all-league) hit .352 with 13 RBI and 14 runs.

Juniors Harrison Brewster (OF) and Mac Moore (2B) were starters, and junior Max Bihler (1B) also started the district final.

—Scott Hennen

•The Liberty boys lacrosse team loses an eight-player senior class that featured midfielders Aidan Kenley and Joey Wiseman, who have committed to Ohio State and Ohio Wesleyan, respectively, and attacker Alex Theuerkauf, who will play for Robert Morris. 

The Patriots were the second seed for the Division I, Region 1 tournament and lost 11-10 to third-seeded Dublin Coffman on May 25 in a semifinal to finish 14-7 overall. They entered the game on a nine-game winning streak that included a 9-6 victory over the Shamrocks on April 27. 

“Since we hit that four-game skid (in early April), they (had) won (nine) straight, so that’s pretty awesome,” coach Jason Godwin said. “We came up short, but it was just a good season.” 

Liberty finished second (4-1) in the OCC-Central behind Upper Arlington (5-0) as Theuerkauf and Wiseman were first-team all-league along with junior defender Dan Kelley. 

Kenley, junior Freddie Noday (face-off midfielder) and sophomore Owen McGee (attacker) were second-team all-league, while sophomore Ethan Brooks (attacker) was honorable mention. 

Wiseman had 46 goals and five assists, McGee scored 41 goals and Kenley had 25 goals. 

Others eligible to return include juniors Luke Godwin (attacker), Ryan Grohe (long-stick midfielder/defender), Max Ruppe (goalie) and Andrew Stamp (defensive midfielder) and sophomores Grant Kenley (defender) and Braydon Spencer (midfielder). 

—Jarrod Ulrey 

•The Orange boys lacrosse team started to lay the groundwork for the future in its first season under coach Jarrod Gilliam.

The seventh-seeded Pioneers lost 16-9 to fourth-seeded Olmsted Falls on May 18 in the second round of Division I, Region 1 tournament to finish 9-8.

“I think the season went very well after a year away from playing lacrosse. The boys really grew together as a team,” Gilliam said. “We’re graduating 10 starters on our squad, but they’ve done a great job getting the next group ready.”

Senior defender Luke Applegate and senior defender Cannon Evans were first-team all-region and all-league. Senior midfielder Tanner Hegarty and senior attacker John Stearns were honorable mention all-region, and senior midfielder Julian DiSabato was honorable mention all-league.

The top players expected back include juniors Jack Behre (defender/midfielder), Blake Dustin (midfielder), Luke Houston (defender), Cody Miller (midfielder/attacker) and Caleb Staten (midfielder/defender), sophomores Carson Britton (defender), Eli Gleckler (attacker), Tyler Stearns (defender) and Jack Morrison (midfielder) and freshmen Ayden Hanna (midfielder) and Dawson Baker (goalie).

—Scott Hennen

•The Berlin girls lacrosse team won four of its last five games, finishing 8-11 after losing 13-6 to top-seeded DeSales on May 22 in a Division II, Region 7 quarterfinal.

The 11th-seeded Bears defeated ninth-seeded Dayton Carroll 16-8 on May 19 to earn the program’s first postseason victory.

Midfielders Jenna Brennan (honorable mention all-region) and Courtney Suchan (honorable mention all-league) led a six-player senior class.

Junior attacker Libby Cuckler was second-team all-region and all-league, while sophomore goalie Alison O’Hanian was first-team all-league and junior midfielder/defender Halle Schmidt was second-team all-league.

—Scott Hennen

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BERLIN BASEBALL

Record: 16-13 overall

OCC-Cardinal standings: Hilliard Darby (12-3), Olentangy (9-6), Thomas Worthington (8-7), Berlin (7-8), Marysville (5-10), Dublin Jerome (4-11)

Seniors lost: Mitch Herbst, Ryan Horstman, Jake Kinkead, Jacob Moeller, Sam Reitz and Nathan Varner

Key returnees: Matthew Barreca, Max Bihler, Harrison Brewster, Daniel Gladden, Parker McDaniels and Mac Moore

Postseason: Defeated Worthington Kilbourne 1-0; def. Pickerington North 4-3 (9 innings); lost to to Orange 5-1 in Division I district final

BERLIN GIRLS LACROSSE

Record: 8-11 overall

OCC-Cardinal standings: Thomas (5-0), Jerome (4-1), Darby (3-2), Olentangy (2-3), Berlin (1-4), Marysville (0-5) 

Seniors lost: Breanna Bosher, Jenna Brennan, Tatum Gursoytrak, Dacey Redman, Emma Reger and Courtney Suchan

Key returnees: Libby Cuckler, Alison O’Hanian and Halle Schmidt

Postseason: Def. Dayton Carroll 16-8; lost to DeSales 13-6 in Division II, Region 7 quarterfinal

LIBERTY BOYS LACROSSE 

Record: 14-7 overall  

•OCC-Central standings: Upper Arlington (5-0), Liberty (4-1), Dublin Coffman (3-2), Hilliard Davidson (2-3), Orange (1-4), Hilliard Bradley (0-5) 

Seniors lost: Keaton Butler, Jayce Fitzpatrick, Aidan Kenley, Drew Kern, Adam Marks, Hagen Schiffer, Alex Theuerkauf and Joey Wiseman 

•Key returnees: Ethan Brooks, Luke Godwin, Ryan Grohe, Dan Kelley, Owen McGee, Freddie Noday, Max Ruppe, Braydon Spencer and Andrew Stamp 

Postseason: Def. Sylvania Northview 24-6; def. Olentangy 13-7; lost to Coffman 11-10 in Division I, Region 1 semifinal 

LIBERTY BOYS TENNIS 

Record: 8-5 overall  

•OCC-Central standings: Orange (5-0), UA (4-1), Liberty (3-2), Coffman (2-3), Bradley (1-4), Davidson (0-5) 

Seniors lost: Vishnu Bodavula, Saketh Chirumamilla, Arvind Nair, Nandha Srivenkateswaran 

Key returnees: Krish Badri, Elijah Polintan, Jay Ramakkagari and Nolan Russell 

OLENTANGY BASEBALL

Record: 15-13 overall

Seniors lost: Kaden Doup, Eric Efland, Jace Middleton, Kyle Offenbacher, Grant Schaffner and Jordan Wilkerson

Key returnees: Tommy Chilicki, Brandon Hire, Austin Sizemore and Carter Williamson

Postseason: Def. Independence by forfeit; def. Teays Valley 7-0; lost to Darby 2-0 in Division I district semifinal

ORANGE BOYS LACROSSE

Record: 9-8 overall

Seniors lost: Luke Applegate, Ryan Borger, Joey Bowers, Dylan Dempsey, Julian DiSabato, Cannon Evans, Tanner Hegarty, Connor Imes, Ben Keller and John Stearns

Key returnees: Dawson Baker, Jack Behre, Carson Britton, Blake Dustin, Eli Gleckler, Ayden Hanna, Luke Houston, Cody Miller, Jack Morrison, Caleb Staten and Tyler Stearns

Postseason: Lost to Olmsted Falls 16-9 in second round of Division I, Region 1 tournament

ORANGE BOYS VOLLEYBALL

Record: 14-11 overall

OCC-Central standings: Orange (10-2), Bradley and Liberty (both 9-3), Westerville North (7-5), Coffman (5-7), Davidson (2-10), UA (0-12)

Seniors lost: Miles Devese, Owen Dickson, Alex Heffner, Lawton Hinley, Luke Little, Drew Morman and Jake Smith

Key returnee: Evan Schultz

Postseason: Defeated Coffman 25-22, 25-22, 25-16; lost to to Jerome 25-20, 25-18, 25-21 in Division I, East Region semifinal