A mixture of seasoned veterans and younger players has been integral to the success of the Hilliard Davidson High School girls volleyball team.
Hitters Katie Campbell and Molly Murphy, libero Alex Netto and defensive specialist Jordyn Schultz returned as the team's four senior starters. But four sophomores new to varsity have meshed with the seniors, and the Wildcats were 12-6 overall and 7-3 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Upper Arlington on Oct. 2.
"Out of my four years, this is definitely one of the closest-knit teams," Campbell said. "We're playing together on the court and we're close off of it.
"We have four seniors and four sophomores and it's a good mix. They will learn what they need to expect in the upcoming years."
Murphy said the close-knit nature of the group has helped build a cohesive unit.
"I think we have really good chemistry on and off of the court," she said.
"I think we have a lot of good back-row players and others in the front row. We don't play individually, but we play as a team."
The sophomore contributors are outside hitters Olivia Canestraro and Kendall Lombard, setter Meghan Munson and middle hitter Anne Schroeder.
"Skill-wise, I like where we're at, but I would like to see less unforced errors, especially with four seniors," coach Betty Cameron said. "Molly Murphy was our setter for the past two seasons, but we moved her to outside hitter and she has been consistent and has adjusted very fast to it.
"Katie Campbell is playing well in the front row and Meghan Munson has been playing well in her first season as setter. And Olivia Canestraro is getting better every week."
Murphy said the transition from setter to hitter wasn't too difficult.
"It wasn't that big of a change because I had played so many positions during the club season," she said. "My sophomore season was the first time I had played much as a setter. Now I don't have to worry about setting and where everyone is on the court. All I have to do is worry about transitioning and hitting it."
On Sept. 25, Davidson defeated Central Crossing 25-10, 25-11, 25-23 in a league match. The Wildcats dominated the first two games, but their focus and execution slipped in the third game.
"I think that we played so strong in the first two games that we kind of lost our focus in the third," Campbell said. "You have to stay focused and that comes from the team. It's a team effort to stay focused. If one or two people start to lose their focus, it's contagious. Everyone has to be on the same page."
Cameron said focus is important because it prevents breakdowns on the court, and those breakdowns can be prevented through hard work in practice.
"It seems like we're good for one or two games and then lose our focus," she said. "Then we tend to have unforced errors.
"(To have fewer unforced errors) you keep working and you have to practice, practice, practice. They understand what they need to do. There are times when we're not in the right position on the court. We need to be there before the ball is hit."