The faces have changed, but the St. Charles Preparatory School boys volleyball team has returned to the Division II state tournament to defend its title.

The faces have changed, but the St. Charles Preparatory School boys volleyball team has returned to the Division II state tournament to defend its title.

The Cardinals defeated Watterson 25-22, 25-22, 26-24 last Saturday at Pickerington North to earn the East Region championship and a berth in the final four.

St. Charles is 21-5 and plays Kettering Alter at 11:45 a.m. Saturday at Centerville. The Knights are 18-5 after beating Dayton Chaminade-Julienne 23-25, 25-14, 25-11, 25-21 last Saturday.

"Even though we graduated five of our six starters from last season, I think being there last year will help tremendously," said coach Shane Farrell, whose team defeated top-ranked and defending state champion Akron Hoban 25-16, 25-20, 25-19 to win the state title last season. "They were there and they got to see the experience. They understand the excitement and saw what it took to win the title."

The Cardinals defeated Dublin Jerome 25-16, 25-12, 25-17 on May 19 in a regional semifinal. St. Charles split with Watterson during the regular season as the teams shared the COVL title at 9-1.

"I was very happy that we came out and won in three games (against Watterson)," Farrell said. "We have been practicing hard and practicing is all about repetition. When you do the right things over and over again, you are going to get better."

The Cardinals earned several East Region honors including Player of the Year for junior middle-hitter Andy Sellan. Senior setter Patrick Feeney and junior outside-hitter Evan Doney were second-team performers. Senior middle-hitter Brian Merkle received honorable mention.

Sellan was the lone starter to return from last year's team.

"It's amazing to see how far we have come since the beginning of the season," Sellan said. "Everyone worked hard in practice and began to trust each other on the court and that makes a big difference."

The semifinal winner advances to the championship against Hoban or Cincinnati Purcell Marion at 4 p.m. Sunday at Centerville.

•The tennis team's season ended in the Division I district. The doubles team of senior Jack Toscano and junior Grant Dolven, and junior singles-player Weston Niermeyer lost in the opening round to district champions.

Niermeyer was beaten 6-1, 6-2 by Worthington Kilbourne's Kevin Metka in the first round last Friday at Hilliard Davidson and Toscano and Dolven lost to Upper Arlington's Billy Weldon and Stu Little 6-1, 6-0.

"I tried to come out and play consistently," Niermeyer said. "I didn't do that as well I would've liked, but that was my strategy."

Niermeyer finished third in the sectional at Davidson and Toscano and Dolven were fourth.

"It was a good experience, but I didn't play as well as I would have liked," said Niermeyer of playing at district. "But I played every point as well as I could. It was a good learning experience."

St. Charles finished third in the CCL at 2-2, behind Watterson (5-0) and DeSales (4-1), and ahead of Hartley (2-3), Worthington Christian (1-3) and Ready (0-6). The Cardinals did not play their match with Worthington Christian after it was postponed several times because of bad weather.

Toscano was the lone senior for the Cardinals, who finished 9-7 in duals.

Varsity players expected back are juniors Dolven, Niermeyer and Christian Schneider as well as sophomores Dennis Gleason, Scott Mazzata, Michael Susa and Stuart Swartz. Freshmen varsity players included Kevin Smoot and Trey Ward.

•The track and field team advanced athletes in three individual events and two relays to the Division I regional at Pickerington North, which began last Wednesday and concludes Friday. The top four in each event advance to the state meet June 4-5 at Ohio State.

At Dublin Coffman in the district 1 meet, which concluded last Saturday, St. Charles finished eighth out of 15 teams with 35 points as Gahanna (120) won.

Junior Colin Merrill advanced in four events for the Cardinals. The top four in each event qualified for regional. Merrill was third in the long jump with an effort of 20 feet, 5 inches and was fourth in the 800 meters in 1 minute, 59.45 seconds.

Merrill was also a member of two qualifying relay teams. The 1,600 relay of Brady Wilson, Jake LeFleur, Stevin Spees and Merrill was third (3:25.67) and the 3,200 relay of Mitch Montgomery, Merrill, Spees and Chris Quinn also was third (8:02.84).

Spees finished second in the 400 (50.01 seconds).

•The lacrosse team advanced to a Division I, Central Region semifinal with an 11-10 win over Gahanna in double overtime.

The Cardinals improved to 9-7 overall and played top-seeded Upper Arlington last Wednesday. The winner advanced to a regional final Saturday against third-seeded Hilliard Davidson or sixth-seeded Thomas Worthington.

Last Saturday, Andrew Burke and Phil Greco both scored three goals and Ryan Finneran added two goals in the win over Gahanna. Garrett Cargin, Chris Gottron and Daniel Johanni all had one goal and David Kenney had five saves.