Grove City endures through early tests
The 2012 season has started much as 2011 ended for the Grove City High School girls volleyball team.
The Greyhounds pushed OCC-Ohio Division foe Newark to four games before losing 25-16, 23-25, 25-20, 25-22 in a Division I district semifinal last year. Already this season, they've split a five-game match with those Wildcats and one against Westerville North and survived a four-game match against Pickerington Central.
"We've been tested, which is a good thing. It helps us mentally prepare and focus," fifth-year coach Alan Pham said. "This team's not going to just show up and win. (Newark and Central) have taught us that."
Six seniors, including first-team all-league and all-district middle hitter Keely Creamer, return to lead the Greyhounds, who finished 14-9 overall and went 9-5 in the OCC-Ohio to tie Gahanna for third, behind Pickerington North (14-0) and Newark (12-2) and ahead of Lancaster (6-8), Central (4-10), Groveport (1-13) and Reynoldsburg (1-13).
Grove City was 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Gahanna on Sept. 11. The Greyhounds defeated Reynoldsburg (25-8, 25-15 and 25-10 on Aug. 28), Groveport (25-8, 25-22, 25-21 on Aug. 30), Westerville North (25-14, 22-25, 25-14, 25-15 on Sept. 1) and Central (17-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-20 on Sept. 6) and lost to Newark (25-20, 25-23, 19-25, 20-25, 19-17 on Sept. 4).
Creamer, a Northern Kentucky University recruit, led the team last year with 225 kills and 33 blocks. The other seniors are setter Anna Conti, outside hitter Katie Faught, libero Ambyr George and right-side hitters Madison McCarty and Allison Waddle. Last season, Conti had 361 assists and George, who has committed to Alderson-Broaddus College in Phillipi, W.Va., had 251 digs.
"It's always a great thing when you have six seniors coming back," Pham said. "It's a close-knit group. That veteran leadership with Anna and Maddy and Keely being my captains really helps us show the younger players how to play. I'm not worried about immaturity. The maturity is there. They police themselves."
Also on the team are sophomore defensive specialist Haven Kulp, junior middle hitter Mariah Matthews, sophomore setter Andrea Miller and sophomore outside hitter Amanda Radich.
Comets get off to rough start
Central Crossing was 0-6 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Central before playing Thomas Worthington on Sept. 11.
The Comets, who graduated 10 players from last year when they finished 10-13 overall, lost to Hilliard Bradley (25-21, 25-11, 25-14 on Aug. 25), Olentangy Liberty (25-17, 25-19, 25-17 on Aug. 28), Hilliard Davidson (25-22, 25-22, 25-17 on Aug. 30), Dublin Jerome (25-18, 25-19 on Sept. 1), Upper Arlington (25-15, 25-21, 28-26 on Sept. 4) and Dublin Coffman (26-24, 25-13, 25-8 on Sept. 6).
"We are a younger team than we have been the past few years," third-year coach Julie Evans said. "But these girls have been working hard and we look forward to improving as the season goes on."
Returnees are senior defensive specialists Emily Albaugh and Megan Hendershot and senior right-side hitter Hannah Miller. Also on the roster are junior defensive specialist/outside hitters Brooke Andrick and Kelsi Cammarata, sophomore middle and right-side hitter Payton Baker, senior defensive specialist Amy Jacobs, junior middle hitter/right-side hitter Rose LeVally, sophomore middle hitter Bolaji Oseni, junior outside hitters Kelsie Rivers and Hunter Taylor, junior setter Erin Scott and sophomore setter Devin Werner.
The Comets went 7-7 in the OCC-Central last year, tying Worthington Kilbourne for fourth behind Coffman (14-0), UA (12-2) and Davidson (8-6) and ahead of Thomas (6-8), Hilliard Darby (2-12) and Westland (0-14).They lost 22-25, 25-18, 33-31, 18-25, 19-17 to Chillicothe in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
As part of OCC realignment, Darby and Kilbourne moved to the OCC-Cardinal and were replaced by Liberty and Marysville, both of which had been in the OCC-Cardinal.
Among those lost to graduation were Kali Basenbeck (outside hitter), Olivia Davis (middle hitter) and Maddy Jordan (outside hitter).
Davis was honorable mention all-league last season with 105 kills, 38 blocks and 17 aces. Basenbeck had 135 kills, 22 aces and 141 digs last year, and Jordan led the team in kills with 141.