Six returning starters could hold the key to success for the Northridge High School girls volleyball team.
Seniors Addison Anderson (hitter) and Sara Pribonic (hitter) join juniors Hunter Adkins (setter), Megan Hatfield (hitter) and Faith Miller (setter) and sophomore Savannah Legg (hitter) as returning starters from a team that finished 3-17 overall a year ago after losing to Heath 25-18, 25-15, 25-19 in the second round of the Division III district tournament.
The Vikings were seventh (3-11) in the MBC last season behind champion Centerburg (14-0).
"We are returning several individuals who were starters from last year's team and that court experience is important," said coach John Smith, who is in his second season. "Hunter Adkins was a libero last season and she has moved to be one of our setters."
The Vikings have moved to the Licking County League. They won their season and league opener against visiting Johnstown-Monroe 25-19, 22-25, 21-25, 25-15, 15-10 on Aug. 24.
Pribonic led Northridge with 14 kills and five aces and Hatfield had 11 kills. Legg had 10 kills, Miller had four aces and Adkins had three aces. Senior libero Courtney Legg totaled 75 digs.
"Sara Pribonic is a returning senior and also a captain," Smith said. "This is her third year on varsity and she brings important game experience."
Junior hitter Sarah George and sophomore hitters Megan Dalton and Jamie Swickard also are on the team.
The Vikings lost to Utica 25-15, 25-15, 25-13 on Aug. 27 in a league match. Hatfield had seven kills and Courtney Legg had three aces.
"The LCL has the history of being a top volleyball league with several of the county programs winning championships at the district level and beyond," Smith said.
"It will be a competitive league and should provide fans with some outstanding volleyball. We're excited to have a chance to be a part of building upon this legacy."
Four runners comprise cross country teams
The boys and girls cross country teams both have only two runners, but second-year coach Gene Weil said more may come out for the program.
"I have been told two more kids might be joining us after Labor Day, so we'll see if that's the case," Weil said. "We'll just keep trudging along and do the best that we can."
The Vikings opened Aug. 24 in the Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion. They did not score in the boys or girls meets because five runners are necessary to record a team score.
Senior Kaitlin Garee (119th, 27 minutes, 19.4 seconds) and senior Vivian Carney (150th, 33:38.4) competed for the girls. Sophomore Colin Evans was 82nd (20:59.6) and freshman James Peek finished 131st (23:38.5) for the boys.
Carney, Evans and Garee competed last season.
"Colin dropped more than a minute off of his best time from last season," Weil said. "Kaitlin and Vivian both ran faster than they did last year, so there has been improvement. James ran his first varsity race, and he did a good job for it being his first time."
On Aug. 28 in the Canal Winchester Invitational, Evans finished 114th in 21:07 and Peek was 200th in 24:43. Garee was 141st (27:53) in the girls race and Carney was 188th (33:44).
Last season, Northridge did not have enough runners for a team score in the MBC boys and girls races. The Vikings now compete in the LCL.
"I'm happy with the effort the kids are putting forth and how they work," Weil said. "They are nice kids who work hard, and they're doing their best to get better. That's all I ask for."
Fairfield Christian next for football team
The football team opened Aug. 30 against Millersport and plays a second non-league game Friday, Sept. 6, against Fairfield Christian at New Lexington.
It will be the first meeting between the programs.
The Knights finished 8-3 last season and made their second postseason appearance. They lost to Newark Catholic 41-14 in the first round of the Division VI playoffs.
Fairfield Christian, which first had a varsity season in 2008, also lost to Newark Catholic 28-0 in the opening round of the Division VI postseason in 2010.
First-year coach B.J. Queen has replaced Dave Daubenmire.
The Knights return standout running back Ben Tobin, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior who led the state with 2,942 rushing yards last season and scored 31 touchdowns.
Senior wide receiver Jacob Walker (6-2, 190) had 20 receptions for 624 yards and nine touchdowns.
Boys soccer team loses to Granville
The boys soccer team was 0-2-1 overall and 0-2 in the LCL after losing to Granville 3-1 on Aug. 28.
Senior forward Connor Johnson scored and sophomore goalkeeper Skyler Pritts had 15 saves.
The Vikings tied Ready at 3 on Aug. 26 after leading 3-1 at halftime.
Senior defender Michael Travis, junior midfielder Jesse Nussbaum and sophomore midfielder Robi Patrick all scored and Pritts had 11 saves.
Golf team falls to Blue Aces
The boys golf team was 5-7 in the LCL before playing Lakewood on Aug. 29 at Harbor Hills.
The Vikings lost to Granville 157-187 in league play Aug. 27 at Clover Valley. Junior Matt Simmons led with a 40, followed by junior Ethan Doon (42), freshman Steele Strout (50), senior Austin Bilderback (55), freshman Chris George (55) and junior Nick McConnell (59).