The Olentangy Orange girls volleyball team was solid on the serve in the first two sets before it wore down visiting Big Walnut in the third to win in straight sets in the season opener Tuesday night in Lewis Center.
Samantha Rubel’s kill early in the first set gave the Pioneers the lead for good. They used a pair of aces by Caroline Shaw as part of five unanswered points to gain control on their way to a 25-17 first-set victory.
“(The serve) is something that we’ve worked on a lot this summer,” Pioneers coach Katie Duy said. “We just wanted to get back to the basics, especially with having so many young kids. We just wanted to focus on the fundamentals.”
Orange has just two seniors (both captains), Rubel and Ashlan Riley, who are charged with leading a group that consists of five sophomores and two freshmen.
“Riley came up with some big swings (Tuesday night) at some big points,” Duy said. “She’s a senior – she’s a three year varsity starter. She’s a big, physical kid and she’s done a great job. Sam had some big swings too, and came up with some big blocks.”
Rubel was a part of Orange’s first four points in the second set after three kills and a combo block with Sidney Gossard put Orange ahead 4-3 early.
“(Gossard) is really good under pressure,” Duy said. “She’s very even-keeled and very steady.”
Emma Urhammer had a pair of kills as the Golden Eagles struck for three of the next four points to gain the lead back at 6-5.
“Emma is doing a really nice job,” BW coach Ron Lehman said. “She’s really come a long way. She was a middle last year and switched over to the left side and has done really well with that adjustment.”
But more solid serving by Gabi Henley with three aces during Orange’s next five points allowed the Pioneers to gain control on their way to a 25-19 second-set victory.
BW started strong in the third set behind two more kills by Urhammer and an ace by Alexandria Brehm to open 7-5, but the Pioneers scored 20 of the next 22 points to close out the Eagles thanks to a strong performance by Carrigan O’Reilly, who had four kills, two aces and a combo block with Gossard.
“I don’t know what happened in set three,” Lehman said. “We lost our composure. I think we’ve got a lot of inexperienced kids.”
Urhammer led BW with six kills and Kelsey Imertreijs and Kaley Rammelsberg added three kills apiece.
“(Rammelsberg) is really athletic and jumps very well, but she’s very inexperienced,” Lehman said. “She’s learning the game – she gets by with her athleticism. We think she’s going to be really good.”
Orange is coming off its most successful year last season when it tied for the OCC-Capital title before falling to rival Olentangy Liberty in the district semifinals.
“(Seeing success) – knowing what it’s like to win – I think it’s a little easier to be confident out there,” Duy said.
Orange has won three straight games over BW after losing its first 14 meetings.
Both teams are back at it Thursday night at 7 p.m. in non-league play. The Eagles open their home schedule against Westerville Central and the Pioneers visit Hilliard Davidson.
Also: Liberty 3, Marysville 0; Delaware Christian 3, Elgin 2.
Orange swept the singles action and picked up a win on one of the two doubles courts to secure a solid 4-1 non-league win over host Davidson Tuesday in Hilliard.
Pioneer winners included Erin Storrer, who notched a 6-0, 6-1 win at first singles; Kortney Reed, who won 6-0, 6-0 at second singles; Livie Mauger, who cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 win at third singles; and the doubles duo of Izzy Prislusky and Mary Damko, who teamed up to win 6-1, 6-2 at second doubles.
Also: Westerville Central 5, Big Walnut 0; Galion 5, Buckeye Valley 0; Upper Arlington 4, Olentangy 1.
Liberty picked up an impressive win over three solid teams Tuesday, firing a 299 to top St. Charles, Upper Arlington and Pickerington North at Scioto Country Club.
Kyle Mitchell led the Patriots with a 71, Trey Rath fired a 72, Jacob Hickman finished with a 78, Cole Corder had a 78 and Ronnie Foth carded an 85.
St. Charles finished second with a combined 309, Upper Arlington finished with a 321 and Pickerington North had a 345 to smooth out the scoring summary.
Liberty 1, Marysville 1; Watkins Memorial 2, Big Walnut 1; Westerville Central 2, Hayes 0; Dublin Jerome 2, Olentangy 0; Whitehall-Yearling 7, Delaware Christian 0.
Olentangy Liberty continued its strong start to the season, scoring three second-half goals to drop visiting Hilliard Bradley in non-league action Tuesday in Powell.
Abby Jones, Abby Townsend and Sarina Dirrig had the Patriot (2-0) goals while Townsend, Dirrig and Emma Koshan were credited with assists.
Emma Campbell and Grace Poncsak combined for six saves in the Liberty goal.
Also: Big Walnut 4, Watkins Memorial 0; Grove City 3, Orange 2.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.