The Grove City High School girls volleyball team relied heavily on outside hitter Ellen Conti, a Tennessee Tech University recruit, to carry the offensive load last season.

The Grove City High School girls volleyball team relied heavily on outside hitter Ellen Conti, a Tennessee Tech University recruit, to carry the offensive load last season.

No one player had the ability to replace Conti after she graduated, but coach Alan Pham said several Greyhounds have stepped up to help fill the void.

And with Keely Creamer (65 kills, 19 blocks), Kendra Parmenter (59 kills, 15 aces) and Sara Radich (50 kills) playing well at the net, Pham said the Greyhounds' offense might be stronger than it was a year ago.

The emergence of junior Anna Conti, Ellen's younger sister, at setter also has been a key to the Greyhounds' success. She had a team-high 117 assists to help her squad win eight of its first 11 matches.

Genna Crump had 16 aces and Ambyr George had 69 digs.

"Ellen was the center of our team last year, but we're much more balanced this year," Pham said. "The great thing about having more even offensive distribution is that teams can't key on stopping one person anymore."

The Greyhounds are eagerly anticipating their OCC-Ohio Division rematch with Newark on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at home.

The Wildcats beat Grove City 25-22, 25-21, 25-21 on Sept. 8.

Newark defeated Gahanna 25-22, 25-21, 20-25, 19-25, 15-9 on Sept. 22 to improve to 14-2 overall and 7-1 in the OCC-Ohio heading into a league match on Sept. 27 against Reynoldsburg.

Against Gahanna, 6-foot-1 junior outside hitter Anni Thomasson had 21 kills and 35 digs, junior setter Rachel Carpenter had 39 assists, senior libero Allie Kreager had 22 digs and 6-1 freshman middle hitter Kym Royster had four blocks.

"Anni is their best player and we have to play great defense against her," Pham said. "But in the last match against Newark, we focused so much on Anni that we lost track of their other players and they hurt us. We contained Anni by putting up a big block against her, but they started tipping on us and we sat back waiting for big hits from Anni and let the ball hit the ground. This time, we'll be ready to defend when they tip."

The Greyhounds are vying to get back into contention for the OCC-Ohio title after losing at defending league champion Pickerington North 25-23, 24-26, 25-27, 25-20, 15-11 on Sept. 20. Grove City was 6-2 in the league before playing Groveport on Sept. 27.

"The OCC title is still within our reach, but we do need help from someone else to take down Pickerington North now because they were undefeated in the first round of league matches," Pham said.

"The biggest thing is we need to maintain our focus better in the future because we tend to lose focus and go into slumps where we give up five or six points. That's what hurt us against Pickerington North; we lost traction and then lost the match. If we learn to maintain our focus, I think we'll be able to beat any team on our schedule."