The Delaware Christian School girls volleyball team hopes to carry the momentum it gained late last season into its opener Tuesday at home against two-time defending MOCAL champion Madison Christian.

The Delaware Christian School girls volleyball team hopes to carry the momentum it gained late last season into its opener Tuesday at home against two-time defending MOCAL champion Madison Christian.

However, coach Jackie Boggs thinks that will be a big task early considering that junior middle-hitter Becca Hughes will not be in the lineup against Madison Christian because of injury.

"She has a cast on her thumb and wrist and isn't scheduled to get it removed until Monday, I think," Boggs said. "If things go well, she might be able to play against Grove City Christian in our second match. We'll have trouble against Madison without her because they have a terrific hitter back in Libby Rahe."

Rahe was the MOCAL Player of the Year the past two years.

Madison Christian won the league at 10-0 and Gahanna Christian was runner-up at 6-4. Delaware Christian was third in the standings at 5-5.

The Eagles return four starters from a team that went 15-8 overall after a sizzling finish. Delaware Christian opened 2-6 but won 13 of its final 15 matches, as the season ended with a 25-20, 25-8, 25-23 loss to Madison Christian in the second round of the Division IV district tournament. The Eagles beat Danville 25-20, 25-23, 25-23 in the first round.

"We really put things together and the girls are excited about coming back and trying to play all this season like they did in the second half of last season," Boggs said. "We improved, gained confidence and just jelled. They were thrilled about their 10-match winning streak. As a coach, I just said, 'Where's this been and why did it take so long?' I expected them to come together sooner."

In addition to Hughes, senior right-side hitter Heidi Evans, junior setter Haley Kirby and sophomore middle-hitter Lenora Boyer return as starters.

Also back are junior libero Sarah Harp, junior outside-hitters Wendy Ferrigno and Liz Roden and sophomore outside-hitter Brenna McCullough.

"Our only senior, Heidi Evans, is our main passer who also will get a lot of swings," Boggs said. "Harp is our best passer and Kirby is doing a great job setting and making our offense quicker. Roden and Ferrigno have been doing a great job and all the girls have improved their serving."

Rounding out the roster are junior front-row player Kelly Miller and junior defensive specialist Lacee Witt.

"Our goals are to win the league and reach at least a district semifinal," Boggs said. "We don't have much size, but we've scrimmaged well against bigger schools. We split with North Union and won one game against Marysville."

•First-year soccer coach Levi Witt is confident that his young squad can compete for a league title, despite the loss of eight graduates.

"We've got two outstanding and fast forwards, a pair of real strong center midfielders who both play club soccer and a top-notch goalie who is 6-3 and just a sophomore," said Witt, who was a junior varsity coach and varsity assistant with the Eagles from 2005-07 under former coach Aaron Welsh.

"I see no reason why we shouldn't win the league. It's one of our goals, and I tell the kids constantly that they need to expect to win it, not hope to win it."

Junior forward Jeremy Buchanan will be a third-year starter for the Eagles, who finished 4-10-3 overall and fourth at 1-2-2 in the MOCAL last year as Madison Christian won at 5-0. Delaware Christian, which won league titles in 2006 and 2007, lost to Grove City Christian 2-0 in the first round of the Division IV district tournament.

Buchanan, who was honorable mention all-league, will be joined up front by junior Ryan Zinn.

Zinn replaces graduate Austin Hill, who was the Player of the Year in the league as a junior, but played in only six games last season because of knee injury.

The center midfielders are sophomore Jackson Quist and freshman Brock Bishop.

"Zinn is one of the fastest high school players I've ever seen and he and Jeremy have really hit it off there," Witt said. "Quist and Bishop are excellent ball-handlers and their play exceeds their age. Both have good field vision."

Senior Michael Kapraly is a returning starter at outside midfielder, with sophomore Andrew Meiser expected to start opposite him.

The defense starts with sophomore goalkeeper Luke McGrath. Senior Hughie Kerins is the sweeper, with sophomore David Tobin playing in the middle. On the outside will be sophomores Pete Kerins and Michael Derosiers.

"Although Luke is a first-year starter, he's a wall back there," Witt said. "I saw him compete in a camp at Mount Vernon Nazarene and he was very impressive against college players and college recruits."

Others expected to rotate include senior David Hixson and sophomore Joey Miser on defense, freshmen Adam Houser and Neil Williams at outside midfield and senior Jason Art at forward. Williams is also the backup keeper.

Also vying for time are seniors Josh Blakemore (forward) and Laura Bush (forward) and sophomores Zack Blakemore (midfield), Jessica Kapraly (defense) and Phillip Scoles (midfield).


Schedules
BOYS SOCCER
Aug. 27 - vs. Xenia Nazarene *Aug. 31 - vs. Madison Christian Sept. 3 - at Village Academy Sept. 10 - vs. Mansfield Temple Sept. 14 - at Grandview Sept. 18 - vs. Granville Christian Sept. 20 - vs. Torah Academy Sept. 23 - at Liberty Christian East Sept. 25 - at Wellington *Sept. 28 - vs. Grove City Christian *Sept. 30 - at Gahanna Christian Oct. 2 - vs. Liberty Christian Prep Academy Oct. 7 - at Gilead Christian *Oct. 12 - at Tree of Life *Oct. 14 - vs. Northside Christian GIRLS VOLLEYBALL
*Aug. 31 - vs. Madison Christian *Sept. 2 - at Grove City Christian Sept. 3 - vs. Granville Christian *Sept. 7 - vs. Gahanna Christian *Sept. 9 - at Fairfield Christian Sept. 11 - vs. Columbus Academy Sept. 14 - at Gilead Christian Sept. 18 - at Worthington Christian tri-match Sept. 20 - vs. Torah Academy *Sept. 23 - at Madison Christian *Sept. 27 - at Northside Christian *Sept. 28 - vs. Grove City Christian *Sept. 30 - at Gahanna Christian *Oct. 5 - vs. Fairfield Christian Oct. 7 - vs. Village Academy Oct. 9 - vs. Marion Catholic *Oct. 12 - at Tree of Life *Oct. 14 - vs. Northside Christian Oct. 16 - at Shekinah Christian *MOCAL contest