Coach Amanda Roehrenbeck expected the entire Columbus Academy girls volleyball team to return, so she decided to take advantage of the offseason.

Coach Amanda Roehrenbeck expected the entire Columbus Academy girls volleyball team to return, so she decided to take advantage of the offseason.

Team-bonding activities were abundant, including a trip to Penn State for a team camp last month. As a result, a close-knit atmosphere has been created by the Vikings, who opened last Saturday with a 25-10, 25-22, 25-20 win over Delaware Christian.

"This team works very well together and are consistently communicating on and off the court," Roehrenbeck said. "This is the first time I ever had the exact team two years in a row."

Academy finished 7-17 overall last year after losing to Danville 25-14, 25-18, 25-21 in the second round of the Division IV district tournament. It was last in the MSL-Ohio Division at 1-13.

"We've improved a lot over the past year," Roehrenbeck said.

The roster is comprised of seniors Air Todd (outside hitter), Chyna Johnson (setter) and Melissa Vorenberg (outside hitter), juniors Megan Aselton (libero), Molly Belcher (outside hitter/setter), Sara Kahwash (defensive specialist), Alex Rife (middle/outside hitter) and Natalie Szykowny (middle hitter) and sophomore Allie Roehrenbeck (middle/defensive specialist). Belcher was first-team all-MSL-Ohio and all-district last season and was the lone sophomore on the all-league team. Belcher finished with 106 kills, 204 digs, 51 blocks, had a .960 serve efficiency percentage, 820 sets and 172 assists.

"Last year the girls spent a lot of time getting to know each other," coach Roehrenbeck said. "They felt uncomfortable around each other and that hurt our passing and communication. This year they do feel comfortable and know how to deal with each other in game situations."

Two seasons ago, Roehrenbeck's team had seven seniors and the Vikings won their first district title and reached a regional semifinal before losing to New Philadelphia Tuscarawas Central Catholic 25-15, 25-19, 26-28, 25-13.

"That team had seven seniors who were very close," coach Roehrenbeck said. "This year we only have three seniors, give juniors and a sophomore. It's quite a different mix."

Academy played its home opener last Tuesday against Village Academy before traveling to Heath today for its conference opener.

"We hope to improve on our record from last year since it's the same team," Roehrenbeck said. "This year, I tried to schedule more Division IV teams so the girls would get experience playing some teams we would see in the tournament, but we're still in the MSL-Ohio."

On Tuesday, the Vikings play host to defending MSL-Ohio champion Bexley. In the offseason, Bexley coach Shaun Servick left and was replaced by Amber Bolinger.

Bexley finished 25-2 last year after losing to Hartley 25-23, 26-24, 25-18 in a Division II regional final.

ĽThe undefeated run by the field hockey team last season ended with a 2-0 loss to Watterson in a district final to finish 16-1-2. Watterson advanced to the state title game before losing to Thomas Worthington 3-0.

"As trite as it sounds, the girls learned to never take anything for granted," coach Anne Horton said. "As much as the kids know people are out to get them, they lost the importance of what that really means. You can't ever look past any opponent toward the future. We have to focus one day at a time and enjoy the journey."

Academy's core group of seniors in Layne Averill, Ali Dillon, Natasha Leicky and Audrey Young is back. As for positions, Horton has not made a firm decision.

"They're working really hard and they've had a good summer," she said. "I've got a good feeling what I've seen out of our offseason will carry over."

Academy opened last Tuesday against Olentangy and played last Wednesday against Dublin Jerome. It will play its home opener Tuesday against Columbus School for Girls.

"We're very passionate right now," Horton said. "We have a huge inner desire to push forward and because of that our practices have been very intense. When things don't go well, they're eager to get back at it and try to correct what's not going well. That will push us forward."

ĽCross country coach John Kerr understands summer time lends itself to busy schedules for high school students. His runners are no exception, so when the team gathers for preseason practice in early August, he expects training needs to get started.

"The boys are in much better shape," Kerr said. "The good news is they'll be competitive right off the bat. Bad news, I'm not expecting any big time drops. We shouldn't get hurt because they'll be in condition."

Seniors Michael Berger and sophomore Zachary Harner are Academy's top two runners according to Kerr, with senior Matt Cartabuke third and junior Wesley Lee fourth. The fifth runner is between junior Nick Klabunde and sophomore Henry Shorr.

"The other guys who haven't been running much are also looking strong," Kerr said. "We'll be competitive with last year and we'll have another shot at getting the guys to regional."

Last season, Academy finished fifth in the MSL-Ohio meet with 125 points behind champion Bexley (35). At the Division III, district 2 meet, the Vikings finished fifth (121) as the top four advanced. Graduate Adam Kulewicz advanced to the regional meet and finished 92nd in 19 minutes, 10 seconds.

The girls team has increased its overall numbers which is important considering Academy's top runner, senior Nicole Humphrey, is nursing tendinitis in an Achilles heel, according to Kerr.

Junior Margaret Coons is Academy's next fastest runner followed by senior Alannah Linkhorn.

"I'm used to being able to count the girls on one hand," Kerr said. "Now their numbers rival the guys, but I have a whole slew of new girls, some of which are crossovers from the soccer team like junior Michelle Knopp."

Last season, the girls team did not post a team score at the league meet as Coons finished sixth in 21:02. At the district 1 meet, the girls finished eighth with 191 points at as Newark Catholic (48) was first. Humphrey finished 11th in 20:58.66.

Academy competed at the Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North last Saturday and last Wednesday at the Canal Winchester Invitational. It will travel Saturday to Hillsboro for the Ohio Classic.

ĽThe football team won its opener 48-0 over Linden last Friday. Mitchell Slutsky caught touchdown passes of 13 and 19 yards and John Durrell returned an interception 52 yards for a score.

Academy will play host Friday to Hartley, which won its opener 63-6 over Centennial last Friday.

The Hawks have a new coach in Brad Burchfield, who succeeded 28-year coach Dick Geyer and is only the program's third coach.

Burchfield's system remains the same as Hartley has a spread-style offense and an eight-player defensive front. Last Friday, Malik McCord ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries.

"They have big-play ability," coach Mark Barren said. "They've got a couple of kids that with their speed and quickness can score anywhere on the field. We've got to contain those guys."

Last season, Hartley beat Academy 32-12.

At a glance

Below are recent results and coming schedules for the Academy boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and boys golf teams:

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 21 --╩Defeated Northland 4-1 in opener. David Gantos scored twice.

Last Saturday --╩Def. Delaware Christian 6-0. Michael Brown scored two goals.

Last Tuesday -- Played Johnstown

Today --╩Home vs. Hartley

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 21 --╩Def. Amanda-Clearcreek 4-3 in opener

Last Saturday --╩Lost to Ready 4-1

*Today --╩Home vs. Fisher Catholic

GIRLS TENNIS

Aug. 20 -- Def. DeSales 5-0

*Today --╩At Granville in MSL-Cardinal/Ohio opener

*Wednesday --╩Home vs. New Albany

Of note: The Vikings are 6-0.

*MSL-Cardinal/Ohio contest

BOYS GOLF

Aug. 18 --╩Finished 10th (332) in Academy Shootout at Columbus Country Club behind champion St. Charles (306). Byron Viets shot a 76.

Aug. 19 ╩--╩Finished ninth (343) in Warrior-Stallion Invitational at Medallion behind champion Dublin Jerome (289)

Aug. 20 --╩Finished 10th (322) in Dublin Invitational at the Golf Club of Dublin behind champion Jerome (283)

Aug. 21 --╩Lost to Wellington 332-354. Viets was medalist with a 77.

Last Saturday -- Hunting Valley╩University School Stonewater Invitational at Stonewater postponed because of poor weather. No makeup date has been announced.

Last Tuesday --╩Played Bexley

Saturday --╩At St. Charles Invitational at Delaware Golf Club