Girls Volleyball: Golden Bears 'starting to jell'

DAVE PURPURA
dpurpura@thisweeknews.com
Libero/defensive specialist Hannah Sprouse (left) is among four seniors leading the way for the Upper Arlington girls volleyball team and sxith-year coach Chris Van Arsdale.

Coming off a second-place finish in the OCC-Central Division and into a season in which the league is expected to be even more competitive, Upper Arlington girls volleyball coach Chris Van Arsdale thinks he has the players to keep the Golden Bears in the league race.

All but two players are back from last year's team that went 12-11 overall and 8-2 in the OCC-Central, finishing behind Dublin Coffman (10-0), and they bring experience in virtually every area of the court.

Four seniors lead the way in Erin Murphy (outside hitter), Carly Ness (defensive specialist/outside hitter), Hannah Sprouse (libero/defensive specialist) and Amelia Van Arsdale (setter).

Murphy had 178 kills last year, second on the team behind junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Jenna Harold's 259.

Sophomore middle hitter/outside hitter Lilian Entenmann, a returning starter, had 131 kills and a team-leading 64 blocks.

"We have a good core back," said sixth-year coach Van Arsdale, whose team was 2-1 before playing Marysville on Sept. 1.

"To lose only two seniors means we were young. They are starting to jell. It's been hard to join everybody together in practice and scrimmage time was nonexistent. I like what our seniors can do and we have a lot of talent in the younger grades, too.

"To have this group right now is pretty helpful. I know these girls and they can handle a lot. It's a credit to these girls for knowing the situation and that it's a good opportunity to jump right in and play."

Junior libero Macy Medors returns after missing last season with a back injury, further bolstering UA's defense.

"I'd stack up our defensive specialists against anybody," coach Van Arsdale said. "They're fantastic."

Rounding out the roster are setter Emily DuPont and middle hitters Emma Morris, Evie Sanford and Sophia Schweisthal. All are juniors.

The Bears opened Aug. 25 with a 25-21, 25-18, 25-20 win at Big Walnut and swept Central Crossing 25-18, 25-17, 25-18 the next night in their home opener before falling to visiting Thomas Worthington 19-25, 25-16, 22-25, 25-22, 15-13 on Aug. 27.

UA begins OCC-Central play Sept. 10 at Hilliard Bradley.

As part of conference realignment, the league now includes Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange, both of which won Division I district championships last year.

Orange has won four district titles in a row.

"I'll stack our league up against anybody," coach Van Arsdale said.

"It's a strong league top to bottom. I like our team. It'll really be about how focused we can be on every point. It has to be all about the next point. We can't get too far ahead of ourselves or too far behind either. It has to be a one-point-at-a-time mentality."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

At a glance

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Coach: Chris Van Arsdale, sixth season

*Top players: Lilian Entenmann, Jenna Harold, Erin Murphy, Hannah Sprouse and Amelia Van Arsdale

*Key losses: Jenna Gomez and Katherine Hayek

*Last season: 12-11 overall

*2019 OCC-Central standings: Dublin 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 Lancaster 25-18, 25-19, 25-22 in second round of Division I district tournament