By Michael Rich
Nhu Do helped Olentangy return to first place in the OCC-Capital volleyball standings with 12 kills in a four-set victory over district-rival Olentangy Orange Tuesday in Lewis Center.
With the 25-16, 22-25, 25-22, 25-18 win, the Braves have handed the Pioneers their only two losses of the season.
“We’re very proud of that,” Olentangy coach Michelle Mimna said. “(Orange is) a very good team and very well-coached. (Their season) just shows you what a great coach will do with a group of athletes that buy in.”
After a sluggish performance the first time the two teams met, Do, a junior, was a big part of first- and third-set victories Tuesday night.
Mimna said Do was looking forward to the rematch.
“(Do) only played the first two sets, we took her out,” she said. “I know that was on her mind. She’s had a couple of really nice matches (since). She’s doing more than just going up swinging — she’s working on shots. She led us tonight and that’s a huge step forward for her confidence.”
Her third of three first-set kills helped brake a 14-14 tie and started an 11-2 run to allow Olentangy to cruise to the opening-set win.
Freshman Olivia Margolies had 10 kills and senior Sarah Hansel added eight.
Mimna said a key to the victory was Olentangy’s 95 percent service rate, which included 14 aces, five by Gabby Trees.
Megan Cochran and Lauren Judge each had three blocks, including one each as part of a 7-1 start to the deciding fourth set.
Zoe Miller anchored the middle with 20 kills to lead Olentangy (11-4, 7-2 OCC).
“She passes really well,” Mimna said. “(She’s our) mid-season MVP in my opinion. She’s made some great digs … she’s so even and calm.”
It was a disappointing loss for the Pioneers (13-2, 7-2), who have lost eight sets all season, six of which have come against rival Olentangy.
“(We’ve) never been able to beat them,” Pioneers coach Katie Duy said. “Obviously, it’s going to take some time to change that mentality, but we’re headed in the right direction.”
The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak for Orange.
Samantha Rubel had a big night for the Pioneers with 18 kills and freshman Carrigan O’Reilly contributed nine kills, nine digs, four assists and two blocks.
“At times, when we need a big swing or we need some energy or when we need a big play, (Rubel) is there,” Duy said. “I give her a lot of credit, because she definitely did not give up … and that’s leadership.”
Sophie Dahn led Orange with 15 digs and Jordan Gels and freshman Megan McCollum each had nine. Kennedy Holloway contributed two blocks and four assists.
Mimna thinks that it’s an exciting time for volleyball in the Olentangy School District. Liberty joins Olentangy and Orange in the same league beginning next season.
“I love it — Liberty, Olentangy and Orange are now all good, competitive volleyball programs,” she said. “That’s fun … that makes these matches worth it.”
Both teams are right back at it on Thursday night. Olentangy travels to Franklin Heights in a match that begins at 7 p.m. and Orange visits Mount Vernon.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.