Whetstone High School girls volleyball coach Errole Rembert is hoping his team's finesse can overcome what it lacks in height.
At 5-foot-8, senior weak-side hitter Ellie Downie is the tallest of the 10 players on the Braves' roster.
"We lack height and do not block well," said Rembert, whose team opened with a 25-11, 25-22, 25-17 win over Patriot Prep on Aug. 20 and defeated Beechcroft 25-16, 25-8, 25-12 in its City League-North Division opener Aug. 22. "We are not a power team. We are more of a finesse team.
"The good news is we are a veteran team and we play with intelligence. We try to exploit our opponents' weaknesses. We transition well and try hard to be where we need to be at all times. We also serve well."
Whetstone, which finished 14-8 overall and placed second (12-4) in the City-North behind Centennial (16-0) last season, returns six players in seniors Ali Adelsberger (5-7, setter/middle hitter), Katie Elekes (5-4, middle hitter/outside hitter), Addie Ortman (5-7, outside hitter) and Val Vokac (5-5, middle hitter/outside hitter) and juniors Lisa Vo (5-4, back-row specialist) and Maddie Wilming (5-5, setter/outside hitter).
Adelsberger and Elekes both were first-team all-league last year.
"Katie is all hustle and covers the court well," Rembert said. "She's also an explosive jumper.
"Ali is the complete package. She is an excellent server, blocks well and is second to none in setting.
"Val adapts to any position on the floor and plays it well. Lisa will go after any ball anywhere and is not afraid to hit the floor to play a ball, and Maddie is setting well and is making progress as an outside hitter."
Also on the team are juniors Chloe Lillash (5-3, back-row specialist) and Tanya Radabaugh (5-3, back-row specialist) and sophomore Adrionna Mills (5-5, outside hitter).
Cross country teams aiming for City titles
Experience should help the cross country teams in their quests to win City League titles this season.
"We've got some experience and hard workers on both teams," coach Joe Monda said. "We'd like to sweep the City championships and get a team to the (Division I) regional (meet), but we'll have to run strong in a pack because we have no frontrunner (on the boys or girls team) who will be in the top 10 of every meet."
The boys team, which is the defending City champion, has returned six of its top seven runners from a year ago, including four of its top five finishers in the league meet.
Junior Ike Boateng (third, 17 minutes, 45 seconds) led Whetstone in the 11-team City meet, followed by senior Hayden Palmer (fourth, 18:02), 2013 graduate Kellen Kincaid (seventh, 18:15), senior Evan Myers (10th, 18:38) and junior Alec Waitkus (13th, 19:02).
Whetstone scored 37 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Centennial (109). The Stars had won the previous four City championships.
Boateng also was Whetstone's highest finisher in the 18-team district 3 meet last year at Watkins Memorial, finishing 57th (19:41.3) of 120 runners, as the Braves scored 368 points to finish 13th behind champion Dublin Jerome (51) with Upper Arlington (183) securing the sixth and final regional-qualifying berth.
Also on the team are senior Kevin McCoy, juniors Idiris Ibrahim, Owen Oesterling, Henry Saint-Juste and Ray Zeliadt, sophomores Sam Green-Lauber, Nick Hall and Kelton Vaeth and freshman Matthew Hauseman.
Whetstone opened Aug. 24 in the seven-team Baron Blast at Buckeye Valley, finishing fourth (95) behind champion Buckeye Valley (49).
The girls team has returned its top seven runners from last season, including its top five finishers in the five-team City meet in senior Julianna Hausman (sixth, 21:29), junior Bianca McLemore (seventh, 21:35), sophomore Elli Schwartz (eighth, 21:56), junior Liz Khoury (ninth, 22:15) and junior Karina Spulgis (12th, 23:05).
The Braves were runners-up (42) in the league meet behind Centennial (41) and ahead of Northland (77), Africentric (92) and Eastmoor Academy (97).
Schwartz led the way for Whetstone in the 15-team district 2 meet last season at Watkins Memorial, placing 51st (22:30.59) of 98 runners as the Braves finished 11th (321) behind champion Dublin Coffman (31) with Olentangy Liberty (111) securing the fifth and final regional-qualifying berth.
Also returning are senior Kellie Chin and sophomore Cassie Chenolveth.
Rounding out the team are juniors Elly Davis, Corrin Moss and Claire O'Grady and sophomores Mariya Al-Ghawi and Anna Chin.
Whetstone won the seven-team Baron Blast, scoring 35 points to finish well ahead of runner-up North Union (60).
"We have quite a few runners who really worked hard this summer," Monda said. "The great thing about this group is that they all are excellent students and good citizens. If we can stay healthy, we will have a fun year."
Football team getting ready for opener
The football team is looking to pick up where it left off last season when it opens the season Friday, Aug. 30, at home against Columbus South.
Whetstone won three of its final four games last year to finish 4-6 in its first season under coach Don Poff. South also went 4-6 last season, winning two of its final three contests.
The Braves won the last meeting with South, 27-8 in 2007.
Leading Whetstone's spread offense is quarterback Ramroth Finnegan, a senior and Division I college prospect. Last season, he was 187-for-358 passing for 2,458 yards with 20 touchdowns and rushed for 403 yards and three touchdowns on 92 carries.
Poff liked what he saw from the Braves' defense during the preseason. Among the key players on defense are Justus Barnett and Austin Davy at linebacker and Darius Bester, Trent Harper and Melek White in the secondary.
"These guys can fly and will get their hats to the ball," Poff said. "We've got a number of defensive playmakers."
South, which is seeking its first winning season since 2006, expects to be led on offense by running back Deone Lindsey, who rushed for 1,300 yards a year ago, and first-year starting quarterback Terric O'Neal.
South's 4-3 defense features five returning starters, including linebacker Donjae Neal and Lindsey in the secondary.