Gahanna Christian Academy girls volleyball coach Nate Kirk believes his team will be competitive this season despite returning only two players from last year.
The Eagles opened with a 25-7, 25-12, 25-20 win over Gilead Christian on Aug. 20 and defeated former MOCAL opponent Grove City Christian 25-16, 25-23, 25-10 on Aug. 22.
Grove City Christian moved to the MSL-Cardinal Division this school year.
"I'm hoping to be at least .500," Kirk said, referring to his team's final record this season. "I always hope for better than that. I don't know the team well enough and how they play to predict how we're going to do."
Gahanna Christian, which finished 16-6 overall and placed third in the MOCAL at 8-4 behind co-champions Delaware Christian (11-1) and Madison Christian (11-1) last season, returns juniors Jenna Kirk and Melissa Sutton. Both are setters and outside hitters.
Through two matches, Kirk had 26 assists, 23 digs, 10 aces and nine kills, and Sutton had 16 kills, 12 assists, 11 digs and four aces.
Last season, Kirk was named honorable mention all-league and all-district in Division IV.
Also on the team are juniors Caitlin Jacques (defensive specialist), Sarah Manko (defensive specialist), Kaylah Price (outside hitter), Grace Roehrenbeck (outside hitter) and Karina Sauder (middle hitter) and freshman Katie Downing (middle hitter).
"We don't have many players," coach Kirk said. "We're cutting it tight with the number of players, but they're a great bunch of kids. They like each other and they play well together. They get along."
The Eagles lost three key players from a year ago to graduation. Christina Grubich, who was first-team all-league and all-district, and Alex Sutton, who was honorable mention all-league and all-district, graduated and Cierra Jackson, who was second-team all-league and all-district last year as a junior, no longer attends the school.
Boys soccer team aims to build on last year
Boys soccer coach Scott Ramsey is looking to build on last season, when his team finished 10-6-1 overall and went 2-2-1 in the MOCAL to tie Granville Christian for third behind Tree of Life (4-0-1) and Delaware Christian (4-1).
Gahanna Christian returns 13 players from last season, including senior midfielder Connor Maclellan, who had 14 goals and 16 assists last year, and sophomore midfielder Emmanuel Dapaa, who had 12 goals and eight assists.
Both were named first-team all-MOCAL and third-team all-district in Division III.
"Everyone in town knows Emmanuel," Ramsey said. "That's one of our challenges, trying to put him on the field where he doesn't (face) man-to-man defense the whole game."
Senior midfielder Connor Dyckes, who had 10 goals and nine assists last year, and senior defender Joseph Schoen also return after being named second-team all-league.
Other returnees are seniors Zach Buckles (forward), Jared Downing (defender), Josh Ohm (forward) and Micah Sauder (forward), juniors Jared Haugen (forward) and Alec Schlesselman (goalkeeper) and sophomores Luke Fout (defender), Rachel Ohm (midfielder) and Christopher Schoen (defender).
Also on the team are junior Sam Sibert (defender) and freshmen Andrew Brewer (forward), Jeshua Ennis (defender), Josiah Haugen (midfielder), Skyler Murphy (defender), Madison Schlesselman (goalie) and Arianna Wyant (forward).
The Eagles have been hit hard by injuries in the early stages of the season, as senior defender Dakoda Ramsey is out for the remainder of the season after tearing two ligaments and fracturing the patella in his left knee during a 5-1 loss to Grandview in the opener Aug. 17.
"Dakoda was my starting stopper and defensive captain," said coach Ramsey, Dakoda's father. "He's real bummed and so is (his) dad."
Fout and Christopher Schoen are splitting time at the stopper position.
Madison Schlesselman broke her left hand and is expected to miss two to three weeks and Josiah Haugen injured his right knee and could miss up to six weeks, coach Ramsey said.
"Our goals haven't changed. We just have to find new people to achieve those goals," coach Ramsey said. "This year we have a lot better chance knowing the league a little better. It's the toughest schedule Gahanna Christian has ever had."
The Eagles defeated Patriot Prep 10-0 on Aug. 22 to improve to 1-1, getting three goals from Dapaa and two apiece from Dyckes and Maclellan.
Golf team begins second season
The boys golf team has begun its second season under coach Tim Haugen.
Seniors Caleb Haugen, David Herman and Logan Keseg return from last season and are joined on the team by junior Eddie Dilts.
"Being a new sport for our school, our players are also relatively new to the game and playing competitively," coach Haugen said. "They are learning and improving rapidly.