The Delaware Christian School girls volleyball team is aiming for a third consecutive MOCAL championship.
The Eagles return four starters in senior Katy Sullivan, juniors Rachael Kirby and Sydney Manny and sophomore Erin McCullough.
Sullivan was the team's libero last season but is a middle hitter this season. McCullough, who at 5-foot-10 is the tallest on the team, has moved from middle hitter to outside hitter and Manny is a right-side hitter who has been filling in for Kirby at setter.
Kirby is recovering from a torn patella tendon.
Last season, the Eagles finished 19-5 overall, went 11-1 in the MOCAL to share the title with Madison Christian and reached a Division IV district final before losing to top-seeded Shekinah Christian 25-12, 25-7, 25-8.
"Rachael is a smart setter and great floor leader," coach Jackie Boggs said. "(Senior middle hitter) Bridget (Cooper) and Katy are playing their best volleyball of their careers. Erin is the strongest hitter we have ever had at DCS and a very good passer."
Also back are juniors BethAnn Tobin (outside hitter) and Abbey Ruminski, who is the team's libero after serving as a defensive specialist last year, and sophomore Liz Sullivan (outside hitter).
Rounding out the roster are junior Natalie Plotner (defensive specialist) and freshmen Abbey Evans (outside hitter) and Mary Kerins (outside hitter).
Liz Sullivan, Plotner and Kerins have been competing for playing time at right-side hitter until Manny moves back to the position when Kirby returns from her knee injury.
"Abbey Ruminski has been very consistent in the libero position," Boggs said. "Two freshmen may become big contributors on the floor. Abbey Evans has great potential as a hitter and Mary Kerins makes very few mistakes on the court."
Delaware Christian lost three players from a year ago to graduation, including outside hitters Lenora Boyer and Brenna McCullough. Last season, Boyer was named MOCAL Player of the Year and first-team all-district and McCullough was first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
The Eagles were 2-2 overall and 0-2 in the MOCAL after losing to Gahanna Christian 17-25, 15-25, 25-23, 25-15, 15-10 on Sept. 3.
Boggs believes her team, Granville Christian and Madison Christian are the top contenders for the MOCAL championship. If the Eagles are to win another league title, they must continue to improve, Boggs said.
"We have strong hitting, good serving and decent serve-receive passing," she said. "But we make too many unforced errors and our transition is too slow right now. We've got to cut down on those unforced errors and do a better job on defense."
Boys soccer team strong in midfield
Five starters have returned for the boys soccer team, which finished 14-3 overall, placed second (4-1) in the MOCAL behind Tree of Life (4-0-1) and lost to Tree of Life 4-1 in the second round of the Division IV district tournament a year ago.
Senior midfielders Brock Bishop and Adam Houser are expected to lead the Eagles.
"With Brock Bishop and Adam Houser anchoring the midfield, we tend to be strong through center of the field," coach Levi Witt said. "Obviously, Brock is our heartbeat. He has started every game of his career and he has done so at one of the most important positions on the field, center mid. We will be relying on his on-field leadership and veteran play. How he plays, our team plays.
"Adam Houser is also one we will be relying on. He works hard on the outside and can be a scoring threat from there or as a striker."
The other returning starters are senior midfielder Neil Williams, junior midfielder Chris Art and junior forward Grant Bishop.
Last season, Brock Bishop had nine goals and 10 assists and was first-team all-league, Houser had six goals and five assists and was second-team all-league and Grant Bishop, who had 10 goals, and Art were honorable mention all-league.
Among the seven players from a year ago lost to graduation were goalkeeper Luke McGrath, forward Jackson Quist, midfielder Pete Kerins and defender Joe Miser.
Last season, McGrath and Quist, who had a team-high 18 goals and five assists, were first-team all-league and Kerins, who had seven goals, and Miser were second-team all-league.
Sophomore Brady Gregory has replaced McGrath in goal. He had seven saves in a 1-0 win over Horizon Science in the opener Aug. 19.
Sophomores Wes Blakemore (forward) and Dan Fisher (midfielder) are being counted on to help fill the scoring lost to graduation. Blakemore scored against Horizon Science.
On Aug. 26, Blakemore scored and Gregory had 12 saves as the Eagles fell to Columbus Academy 5-1.
The Eagles were 2-1 after beating Licking Heights 4-2 on Sept. 3, as Blakemore scored twice.
"We have some question marks," Witt said. "Last year, we graduated a big goal-scorer (Quist) and a goalkeeper (McGrath). We certainly have big potential at both of those positions. (Those players) are just unproven yet.
"Blakemore and Fisher will also be relied on to provide goals. Though young, they both saw good minutes as freshmen and they know how to get the ball in the back of the net."
Other returnees are seniors Wyatt Bess, Matt Cellar and Matt Gessner. Rounding out the roster are sophomores Colton Bess, Armand Rosario, Noah Thompson and Gus Witt and freshmen Isaac Houser and Caitlyn Ruminski.
"We will be successful if at the end of every match we are better as a team than we were at the start of that game," coach Witt said. "If our guys can just focus on playing 80 solid minutes of our style of play, executing above-average fundamentals, we will succeed."