Less than three months after coaching the DeSales High School boys volleyball team to the cusp of a Division II state championship, Andy Feltz helped the girls team start its quest to reach the same heights.
With the Stallions coming off their first CCL championship and state tournament appearance in eight years, Feltz said his biggest adjustment won't be coaching girls instead of boys.
"There's a whole lot of seasoned talent here," Feltz said. "Most of the time I've been coaching, I've been in developmental situations. These girls already know what to do a lot of the time. It's a new challenge I'm excited to take on."
The Stallions went 26-3 overall and 7-1 in the CCL last season, losing to Cleveland Heights Beaumont 25-19, 25-14, 17-25, 25-14 in a Division II state semifinal. They have moved up to Division I this year.
Returnees from a year ago include 5-foot-11 senior Kenya Cason, a University of Connecticut recruit who mostly played middle hitter last year but now is an outside hitter. Senior Kendall Witt has moved to outside hitter from right-side hitter and junior Emily Durbin is a right-side hitter after playing middle hitter a year ago.
DeSales, which was 2-0 before playing Middletown Fenwick on Aug. 31 and begins CCL play Tuesday, Sept. 10, at home against Hartley, has been dealing with a few injuries. Sophomore defensive specialist Dani Guanciale tweaked a knee, junior defensive specialist Abby Julian became the primary setter in the wake of a groin injury to sophomore Julia Brown and senior right-side hitter Coley Tuel was working through a nagging back injury.
The Stallions opened with a 25-19, 25-17, 25-7 win at Grove City on Aug. 24 and beat Bloom-Carroll 25-16, 25-19, 25-18 in their home opener Aug. 27.
Also on the roster are junior middle blockers Jamie Durbin and Katie Evans, junior defensive specialist Natalia Iannarino and sophomore defensive specialist Doni Guanciale.
Feltz said the Cincinnati Mother of Mercy Fall Classic on Sept. 21, not to mention CCL showdowns with Hartley and Watterson, will go a long way in determining the team's postseason fortunes.
"We're going to get tested there," Feltz said of the Mother of Mercy tournament. "I want us to get out of the region and see teams from other parts of the state. I'm convinced we'll have the talent to compete in central Ohio."
Football team set for trip to Cleveland
The football team plays the second of four consecutive road games to begin the season Friday, Sept. 6, when it faces East Cleveland Shaw for the first time.
Shaw has made the playoffs five times, including as recently as 2011, but finished 5-5 a year ago and has just one returning starter. The Cardinals, who opened Aug. 30 against Cleveland East Tech, were in Division II, Region 6 last season but are in Division II, Region 3 this year.
DeSales, which opened Aug. 30 at Westerville Central, also went 5-5 last fall.
"We've only got one varsity starter back (in junior offensive lineman Brian Williams), but we're fine," Shaw coach Rodney Brown said. "The cabinet's not empty. We could have easily been 8-2 a year ago."
One reason for Brown's optimism is that Shaw lost three games last season by eight points or fewer, including a 28-27 decision to Division III playoff-qualifier Dover.
Senior Malik Penn, who was Shaw's junior varsity quarterback a year ago, has taken over behind center. Other key players in the Cardinals' spread offense include junior wide receiver Brandon Harris (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) and senior running back Anthony Shumpert.
Defensively, Shaw gave up 23.3 points per game a year ago. Williams (DL) and Harris (LB) are expected to be the team's top players on defense.
The Stallions, whose schedule includes five opponents they will be facing for the first time, have the advantage in terms of experience.
Among their returnees are Sayyid Kanu (RB/DB), Nick O'Brien (OL/DL), Griff Saunders (TE/LB) and Tucker Yinger (RB/DB). Junior Brandon Krietemeyer, who sat out last season after transferring from Thomas Worthington, is the quarterback of DeSales' new offensive system that features some option and some pistol formations.
"We know DeSales has a very rich tradition, and we've established some tradition," said Brown, who has led Shaw to two playoff berths in six seasons.
"Our league is predominantly Division I, so we don't run from anybody. I probably have 55 guys between my j.v., varsity and freshman (teams), but we don't make excuses."
Boys golf team coming on strong
The boys golf team heated up as August wound down, shooting a 314 to tie for third in the Kent Miller Colonial Fall Classic on Aug. 24 at Hiawatha.
Two days later at Champions, senior Danny Helin's hole-in-one on No. 2 keyed a round of 35, as DeSales shot a 159 to defeat Reynoldsburg by 31 strokes.
Helin's ace, his first in high school competition, was from 150 yards.
"It hit the green pin-high, bounded forward and backed into the hole," coach Tom Eckl said. "I was standing right next to the green. It was very exciting."
As of Aug. 29, the Stallions' score at Hiawatha was their best 18-hole score by 16 strokes.
"We've really started playing well and concentrating and getting into a rhythm," Eckl said.
"I keep getting on them about not being pessimistic. They'll tell me about the triple-bogeys or quadruple-bogeys, but never about the five or six pars that made their rounds. I'm trying to get them to be more optimistic, get them to move past those bad shots, and I really think that's starting to pay off."