Olentangy Liberty is still a state tournament


Olentangy Liberty Boys volleyball coach David Hale is still focused on the next point. It’s about being better on the next ball than on the previous one.

That focus was never more evident than when the Patriots came back from a two-set deficit to force a fifth set against defending state champion Cincinnati Moeller.

Liberty, playing in its second straight state tournament, ultimately fell to the Crusaders 25-17, 25-18, 19-25, 9-25, 19-17 in the quarterfinals on June 4 at Pickerington Central to finish 22 -4 in total. . Moeller won the title the following day.

“This year’s group was never going to be content with being good,” said Hale, who was named coach of the year in the Eastern Region and OCC-Central Division. “We’ve talked over the year, saying ‘It’s not OK to be OK.’ Every day in training and every game we played, no matter who our opponent was, we just wanted to keep pushing to improve.

“It’s not OK to just follow the moves. We play each ball that is in play and then move on to the next ball. We play to be the best we can be and I don’t care who lines up on the other side of the net.

Liberty has been on the brink twice now. The Patriots went five sets with Cleveland St. Ignatius in the quarterfinals last year before losing 25-22, 19-25, 27-29, 25-18, 15-13.

“I was really good friends with a lot of seniors last year and saw how upset they were,” said senior outside striker Noah Koknat. “I really wanted to win a lot for (me), but partially for them too.”

Liberty had a 43-game winning streak to open the season and won the OCC Central Division at 12-0 with just one set lost.

Koknat and classmates Colin Brooks (right side hitter), David Jenkins (right side hitter/outside hitter) and Colby Whiteside (outside hitter) were instrumental in the success.

But on the next point, Hale thinks their impact on the young core group should come back – juniors Wes Davis (setter) and Jack Sullenberger (releaser) and sophomores Jake Koch (middle hitter; 40 blocks ), Connor Severson (setter) and Caden Whiteside (outside hitter) – will prove equally invaluable.

“For us, it’s just going to be for next year’s band trying to find the same focus as this year’s,” Hale said. “Every year it’s kind of a reset. We will be juniors and that could be a good thing. We have experience now, but we are still young. It will be a question of whether these juniors are resting on their laurels.

Koknat (264 kills, 137 digs, 36 aces) was First Team All-State and Player of the Year in Eastern Region and OCC-Central. Jenkins (179 kills, 188 digs, 35 aces) received honorable mention from all states and first team from all regions and leagues.

Sullenberger (241 digs, 28 aces) and Colby Whiteside (50 blocks, 41 aces) received honorable mentions in all regions. Severson (534 assists, 38 aces) was All-League Special Mention and Brooks was All-League Honorable Mention.

“I tell the guys I want them to do better than us next year,” Koknat said.

• The strides Berlin made under first-year coach Jim Cornett were impressive.

The Bears had won only nine games at the start of the season, including six last year. They finished 19-8 after losing to top-seeded DeSales 27-25, 25-20, 25-22 on May 25 in a Division II East Region semi-final at Worthington Kilbourne.

“All the guys in the program love being together and they’re building something special,” said Cornett, whose team was ranked fourth. “It’s culture. It’s the team vibe. They all want to be part of it. »

The Bears had just four seniors, including outside hitter Mason Clark (144 kills, 40 blocks, 25 aces) and libero Mike Mannino (team-high 237 digs).

Berlin have a solid core of players who should return. Sophomore setter Parker Van Horne (Honourable Mention All Region, second team all-OCC-Cardinal) led with 704 assists and had 45 kills, 21 blocks, 48 ​​aces and 148 digs. Sophomore middle tackle Mitch Zahner (honorable mention all regions and all leagues) had team highs in blocks (51) and aces (53) along with 123 kills and 128 digs.

Freshman outside hitter Hayden Van Horne (second team all-region, first team all-league) led with 270 kills and added 31 aces and 193 digs. Freshman outside hitter Josh Weida (Honourable Mention All Region) had 203 kills, 31 aces and 134 digs.

Junior middle blocker Aditya Arora had 103 kills and 45 blocks.

“(The four starters and the second-year starters) all play together at the club, and that’s as important as anything,” Cornett said. “We have a lot of guys who live and breathe volleyball, and they’re going to keep improving and doing good things.”

—Scott Hennen

[email protected]



•Registration: 19-8 overall

• OCC-Cardinal classification: Thomas Worthington (11-1), Dublin Jerome (7-5), Hilliard Darby (7-5), Worthington Kilbourne (7-5), Berlin (6-6), Olentangy (4-8), Dublin Scioto (0 -12)

•Lost Elders: Mason Clark, Ryan Jeansonne, Mike Mannino and Shon Pham

• Main returnees: Aditya Arora, Hayden Van Horne, Parker Van Horne, Josh Weida and Mitch Zahner

• Post-season: Def. Preparation of the Patriots 25-4, 25-8, 25-8; def. Olentangy 25-19, 25-21, 25-14; lost to DeSales 27-25, 25-20, 25-22 in Division II, East Region Semi-Final


•Registration: 22-4 overall

• OCC-Centrale classification: Liberty (12-0), Dublin Coffman (9-3), Hilliard Davidson (8-4), Westerville North (6-6), Orange (3-9), Upper Arlington (3-9), Hilliard Bradley (1 -11)

•Lost Elders: Colin Brooks, David Jenkins, Noah Koknat, Jacob Tootle and Colby Whiteside

• Main returnees: Wes Davis, Jake Koch, Connor Severson, Jack Sullenberger and Caden Whiteside

• Post-season: Def. South Westerville 25-15, 25-14, 25-13; def. Gahanna 25-9, 25-11, 25-8; def. Mount Vernon 25-27, 25-20, 25-8, 25-20; lost to Cincinnati Moeller 25-17, 25-18, 19-25, 9-25, 19-17 in the Division I quarterfinals


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