The Marysville High School girls volleyball team didn't take long to equal its win total from last season, when the Monarchs finished 4-16.
Entering an OCC-Central Division match Aug. 29 against Dublin Coffman, Marysville was 4-5.
The Monarchs started strong by finishing second (2-1) in their season-opening Marys-ville Spike-Off Invitational on Aug. 17 behind Olentangy (3-0).
The Braves defeated the Monarchs 20-25, 25-19, 25-17 in the final, but junior Abby Butler (defensive specialist) and sophomore Anna McNabb (setter) were named to the all-tournament team.
"I know what we're capable of," coach Jennifer Burton said. "It's just not playing down to the level of the team that we're playing. The girls have to hustle on the court. ... We need hustle and communication right now."
Marysville opened OCC-Central play by losing to Westland 25-22, 25-21, 24-26, 25-11 on Aug. 27.
McNabb had 14 assists, sophomore Monica Miller (middle blocker) had eight kills, and junior Emily Bucklin (middle blocker) and sophomore Veronica George (outside hitter) each had seven kills.
Butler, who was honorable mention all-league last season, had seven digs.
"The first three (games against Westland) we were really neck and neck, back and forth," Burton said. "We would get a big lead and we let them right back in with our mistakes. Game four their block was too big and we weren't seeing it, and we weren't hitting around it and we weren't covering it."
The Monarchs went 0-3 in the Mercer Health Invitational on Aug. 24 at Celina, finishing behind champion Leipsic (3-0).
"(The Marysville Spike-Off) was a good opening tournament for us and I thought that would be a good indicator of how our season would go," Burton said. "Unfortunately, this past week we had a (Celina) tournament and (Westland) match. We didn't perform well in either."
However, the Monarchs defeated Shekinah Christian 16-25, 25-21, 25-10, 25-22 on Aug. 20 and Worthington Christian 23-25, 25-17, 25-20, 16-25, 15-7 on Aug. 22.
Also returning are seniors Kelsey Gugel (right-side hitter), Katelyn Karcher (outside hitter) and Mollie Walters (defensive specialist). Other players are juniors Madison Brandfass (defensive specialist), Meghan Failor (right-side hitter), Jenna Lee (defensive specialist), Brittany Nichols (right-side hitter) and Morgan Thompson (setter).
Cross country teams off and running
The boys cross country team opened the season Aug. 17 by finishing 15th (379) in the 18-team OHSAA Preseason Invitational at National Trail Raceway behind champion Mason (63).
On Aug. 24 in the 11-team Mount Vernon Kiwanis Invitational, the Monarchs placed eighth (211) behind champion Dublin Jerome (27) as sophomore Alec Sandusky was ninth of 150 runners (16 minutes, 55.4 seconds).
Last season, Sandusky led the Monarchs in the 13-team Division I, district 1 meet, finishing 27th (17:57.33).
Other runners at Mount Vernon were juniors Michael Coffey (33rd, 17:53), Zach Magers (44th, 18:15.4) and Gavin Mickelson (74th, 18:50), sophomore Josh McPheron (80th, 18:54.4), senior Matt Reed (83rd, 19:01), sophomore Ryan Cook (86th, 19:08.8), senior Joel Fehrman (88th, 19:12.7), junior Daniel Sparks (96th, 19:27.1), senior Steven Milroy (111th, 19:40.9), junior Tyler Kutney (114th, 19:43.8), sophomores Tim Jasper (121st, 20:01.5) and Collin Wallace (128th, 20:16.2) and freshman Blake Dearwester (132nd, 20:18.2).
Coach Tom Borawski also expects senior Christian Madsen to contribute this season.
"The boys are pretty deep when considering talent," Borawski said. "We will work on tightening the gap between our top runners."
The girls team finished 22nd (648) in the 24-team OHSAA Preseason Invitational behind champion Mason (47) and 11th (306) at Mount Vernon behind champion Upper Arlington (33).
Freshman Susie Reed was 40th (22.23) of 129 runners at Mount Vernon. Other runners were freshman Jenna Gastineau (68th, 23.45.5), senior Maddie Hoy (88th, 24.47.7), junior Allanah Larriuz (95th, 25:26.2), seniors Victoria Williams (98th, 25.33), Madison Kingery (118th, 27.06.1) and Audrey Minor (123rd, 27.22.2) and junior Elizabeth Williams (126th, 27.45.3).
Other key runners are senior Megan Miller and sophomore Beth Miller.
"We have a smaller group of girls. If we can keep them healthy, we may be able to make some noise in the district," Borawski said. "I feel the talent is there. We just need to help the girls believe in themselves."
Football team to visit Jonathan Alder
The football team plays Friday, Sept. 6, at Jonathan Alder, looking to avenge last season's 30-10 loss to the Pioneers, who also defeated Marysville 21-0 in 2011 and 30-21 in 2010.
"I don't know what it is (about playing Jonathan Alder)," coach Morgan Cotter said. "We just have this stigma or something. Our kids play real tight. I don't know if it has to do with just the way our kids play, and it's unfortunate."
Jonathan Alder, which finished 4-5 last season as an independent, has joined the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and will play in the Red Division.
The Pioneers, who opened Aug. 30 against Thomas Worthington, returned three starters on offense. They are senior John Jewett, who moved from split end to quarterback, senior tackle Chandler Ferko and junior center Tanner Gaerke.
Jonathan Alder also returned eight starters on the defense, including linemen Ferko and senior Trent Kaltenbach.
"It's a huge game on Jonathan Alder's schedule," said Cotter, whose team played Hilliard Bradley in its opener Aug. 30. "It's real big. They talk about it all year long. It's real important to their kids, and our kids just play uptight. You put those two things together and they've come out on top of this thing the last three years."
Boys golf team defeats Bradley
The boys golf team defeated Bradley 147-170 on Aug. 26 at Marysville Golf Club.
"Finally, the boys all scored well on the same day," coach Anthony Given said. "I have been waiting for them to do this all season."
Wyatt Tarrant birdied three holes and eagled No. 7 while finishing with an even-par 36.
Jevon Knox made a 30-yard chip on the par-3 No. 2 hole and finished with a 36.
Morgan Tarrant shot a 37, followed by Mark Milholland (38), Drew Yutzy (41) and Andrew Balsiger (43).