Olentangy played some of its worst volleyball of the season in the first set and followed it up with some of its best in a 3-1 win at rival Olentangy Liberty Tuesday night in Powell.
“I would have never thought that we would have had this result after set one,” Olentangy coach Michelle Mimna said. “They haven’t played that poorly in any of the sets we’ve lost.”
But Olentangy took control in each of the next three sets and withstood rallies by the Patriots to pick up the victory.
“I don’t know what to tell you right now, I’m in shock,” Mimna said. “I thought we were going to lose in three.”
The win comes on the heels of a tough four-set loss to rival Orange last week. Olentangy, Liberty and Orange are now tied for first through the first round of play in the OCC-Buckeye Division.
“It feels great because we just came out of a loss to Orange, so to bounce back like this is really good for our team,” freshman Madyson Chitty said.
Liberty (12-3, 4-1) came out strong in the first set. Chloe Merritt, Madison Brenner, Heather Littlejohn and Maddie Fogg each had kills during a 6-0 run to give the Patriots control on their way to a 25-15 first-set victory.
“I think we stepped on the floor with good energy and focus in game one,” Patriots coach Jen Chapman said. “We took advantage of some things they were doing on their side.”
The teams played back and forth in the second set as Olentangy used runs of 6-1, 5-0 and 4-0 to gain control before the Patriots fought back within striking distance at 23-22.
“We changed the lineup, we rotated around and had a different setup,” Mimna said. “Katelyn (Petrycki) got on a run serving – that seemed to really pick us up.”
Senior captain Nhu Do and junior Bobby Diamond had back-to-back kills to close out a 25-22 second-set victory for Olentangy (7-3, 4-1). Do finished with 10 kills and 2.5 blocks and Diamond added nine assists and five kills.
“We saw that Liberty was really hitting at us from the outside a lot,” Mimna said. “They scored a couple of times from the middle, but we felt like if we committed to their outside, we could (change momentum).”
Liberty took a 16-15 lead in the third set thanks to a 7-1 run. Fogg and Littlejohn each had a pair of kills before Fogg’s ace put the Patriots on top.
Olivia Margolies had kills on back-to-back points and followed with an ace before Emily Margolies closed out a 4-0 spurt with a block to give Olentangy control at 19-16.
The Patriots scored the next three to tie it up again thanks to kills by Fogg and Grace Clark.
Do had a pair of kills to help Olentangy close out a 25-23 third-set victory.
“I’ll give Olentangy a lot of credit – I think they did some really good stuff on their side,” Chapman said. “We just didn’t step it up on our side to match what they were doing.”
Chitty had a pair of aces in the final set during a 7-1 run as Olentangy built an 18-10 lead in the fourth. She had 13 digs to go with three aces.
“I think (the aces) boosted our confidence level and it helped us gain momentum,” Chitty said.
Do and Olivia Margolies each had a kill before Emily Margolies had two kills to close it out 25-17. Olivia Margolies led with 15 kills and three aces and Emily Margolies added eight.
“The twins – they don’t get that they can be dominate if they hit high enough or don’t hit right into a block,” Mimna said.
Gabby Trees had 20 assists to lead Olentangy, Lexie Weithman led with 18 digs and Megan Cochran led with three blocks.
“I was really impressed with the consistency,” Mimna said. “Lexie was right where she needed to be – dug a ton of balls.”
Liberty travels to Orange Thursday looking to sweep the season series after it had to come back from a 2-0 deficit to win in five sets Sept. 6.
“I knew between these three teams, it was going to be a battle every time,” Chapman said. “We all beat each other, so we’ll come around the second round and hopefully progress and get better.”
Olentangy travels to Westerville South Thursday looking to stay atop the league standings.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.