The City League title that the Northland High School girls volleyball team earned a year ago helped it have the finish it had been seeking for more than a decade.

The City League title that the Northland High School girls volleyball team earned a year ago helped it have the finish it had been seeking for more than a decade.

The strong group of returnees the Vikings have this fall could signal that another strong season is on the way.

Of the 12 players expected to see extensive action, 10 are seniors, including several who saw significant action in the league final last year.

"We've got almost everybody back and we've got some height," said J. Sanchez, who coached the Vikings from 2002-05 and is in his fifth year of his second tenure with the team. "We've got 10 seniors out of our 12 varsity players, so it's not a bad place to be."

Senior middle hitters Kierra Simpson and Edderra Jenkins, who are 6-foot and 6-1, respectively, are the top returnees. Simpson made first-team all-City League-North Division each of her first three seasons and Jenkins was first-team all-league last fall.

Another returnee, senior outside hitter Jazmine Lee, was second-team all-league.

The other seniors are Raven Bryant-Williams (right-side hitter), Cortland Mullins (right-side hitter), Monika Pitzer (setter), Kamara Rivers (defensive specialist), Alicia Sanford (setter), Briyona Smith (right-side hitter) and Kiara Willis (right-side hitter). Smith and Willis both are 5-10.

Junior Jasmine Weatherspoon, who is 6-3, also provides a tall presence at middle hitter. Junior Tamya Burrows will be at libero.

Last season, Northland went 14-0 to win the City-North, finishing ahead of Centennial (12-2), Brookhaven (9-5), Whetstone (8-6), Columbus East (7-7), Beechcroft (4-10), Linden-McKinley (2-12) and Mifflin (0-14).

The Vikings beat Briggs 21-25, 25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 15-2 to win their first City title since 1998.

Northland lost to Marion-Franklin 18-25, 11-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-13 in the first round of Division I district tournament to finish 16-6 overall.

"We're looking for challenges in the schedule," Sanchez said. "We're not looking past the City because we know that one slip-up (against a team in the City-North) and we (likely won't advance to the City final), but we're also looking to do well outside the (school) district."

•The Northland football team hopes to bounce back from a 32-13 loss to Eastmoor in its Aug. 26 opener when it plays defending Division II state champion Maple Heights at home Friday, Sept. 2.

The Mustangs beat Macedonia Nordonia 41-7 on Aug. 26. Quarterback Dejunn Graham rushed for three first-half touchdowns and Maple Heights had a fumble return and a kick return for scores.

Other top players for the Mustangs are senior defensive tackle Aaron Pipkins (6-2, 250 pounds) and senior wide receiver/defensive back Jeremy Graves (6-2, 180), a Cincinnati recruit.

"It's a very ambitious schedule," coach Kevin Tooson said. "(Maple Heights has gone) to the state final two years in a row. There's going to be some great talent."

Maple Heights was the 2009 state runner-up and beat Trotwood-Madison 45-33 for the title last season.

•The Northland and Beechcroft girls soccer teams are looking to show improvement this season.

The Vikings have 15 players, including 12 who were on the team a year ago.

Back to lead the team are seniors Alexandra Goldsmith (forward), Lovina Koroma (defender) and Alexandra Pickett (forward) and sophomores Miriam Avila (goalkeeper), Veronica Garcia (midfielder) and Madelyn Smith (defender).

Last season, Northland lost to Hilliard Davidson 10-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament to finish 4-9. The Vikings, who defeated Beechcroft 8-3 and 6-1, Franklin Heights 3-0 and East 4-2, lost five players to graduation.

"We're finalizing some things on the field," second-year coach Tori Moore said. "We want to build from how we played in the second half of our tournament game against Hilliard Davidson when we gave up no goals in the second half."

Dan Zedeker, who is the boys and girls swimming and diving coach at Beechcroft, has taken over the girls soccer program. Ashley Pence stepped down after coaching the past two seasons.

Zedeker is coaching girls soccer for the first time since 1996. The Cougars went 1-10 a year ago, with their only win over East 6-4. They lost to New Albany 9-0 in the first round of the district tournament.

Beechcroft has six seniors in Alimatu Gboya, Brittany Harris, Baiyina Jones, Mariah Mayes, Latoia Thompson and Melissa Zimmerman. Zimmerman is moving from sweeper to goalkeeper and Mayes will be in the midfield.

Other key players should include sophomores Stephanie Ibarra (forward) and Dalelynn Featherstone (forward) and juniors Maribel Lernanez (midfielder) and Edith Nkengany (defender).

"I have a very young team, with a couple freshmen and a couple sophomores," Zedeker said. "They've only won two matches in two years, but it's going great so far."

•The Beechcroft and Brookhaven girls tennis teams are battling to overcome inexperience.

The Cougars are led by juniors Marelle Adams and Venus Irorere, who both played doubles last season. Freshman Alexis Weaver is another who likely will contribute.

The Bearcats are expected to feature junior Kaitlyn Crawford at first singles, with classmates Renee Cheeks and Kristina Tweedy at second and third singles. Senior Sydney Ervin and sophomore Rachel Howell should be at first doubles, with junior Meesha Freeman and sophomore Candace Ervin at second doubles.

Juniors Bennis Agyemong, Skylar Butlar and Sydney Bruce, sophomore Paolo Benefo and freshman Pricilla Konama are others vying for playing time.

Neither the Cougars nor Bearcats had any players advance past the Division I sectional tournament last season.