Despite having several underclassmen in key roles and just three seniors a year ago, the Hartley High School girls volleyball team extended a string of 20-win seasons and Division II district championships to six and also captured a share of a league title.

Despite having several underclassmen in key roles and just three seniors a year ago, the Hartley High School girls volleyball team extended a string of 20-win seasons and Division II district championships to six and also captured a share of a league title.

The outlook could be even brighter this season for the Hawks.

Of the players expected to spend the season on varsity, eight are seniors and two are juniors who were regulars a year ago.

The Hawks already have beaten 2010 Division II state runner-up Big Walnut this season, 25-17, 26-24, 25-20 on Aug. 27. Hartley also defeated Olentangy Liberty 25-14, 25-19, 25-16 on Aug. 29.

"We were pretty young last year, but this year we've got a large group of seniors and it's going well so far," said 12th-year coach Max Miller, who has more than 200 victories. "We're expecting big things."

Seniors Natalie Briggs (setter), Lauren Hurley (libero) and Katie Thivener (right-side hitter) are serving as captains. The other seniors are Emily Bommer (defensive specialist), Taylor Fallert (middle hitter), Lauryn Otto (defensive specialist), Rachel Newlin (middle hitter) and Samantha Tallman (defensive specialist).

Junior Brooke Betts (outside hitter), who along with Fallert is 6-foot, made first-team all-state a year ago. Junior Molly Shonk (outside hitter) also is a key returnee. Junior Kayla Smith is hoping to contribute at outside hitter and middle hitter.

Last season, the Hawks went 20-6 overall. They tied Watterson for the CCL title at 6-2, ahead of Ready (5-3), DeSales (3-5) and Columbus School for Girls (0-8).

In the postseason, Hartley beat Hamilton Township 25-9, 25-22, 25-17, Jonathan Alder 25-18, 25-20, 19-25, 15-9 and Hilliard Bradley 25-13, 25-16, 25-22 to win a district title before falling to Millersburg West Holmes 25-22, 25-18, 25-17 in a regional semifinal.

The Hawks, who lost 2011 graduates Lauren Hughes, Kate Larrimer and Theresa Mercuri, were state runners-up in 2007 and last made it to state in 2008, when they were semifinalists.

"We're fortunate to be able to play in a league where Watterson, DeSales, Ready and ourselves all have a strong possibility of winning a district title," Miller said. "We schedule pretty heavy outside our league because we have aspirations of making the (state) final four."

•Molly Gilbert, who also is Hartley's girls lacrosse coach, has taken over the field hockey program.

The Baltimore native, who grew up "in the East Coast where both sports are very popular," has taken over for Jen Ulrich after she stepped down in the offseason.

The Hawks have 11 seniors and aspirations of improving on a 10-6-1 finish a year ago.

"We have great expectations for success this season," Gilbert said. "They had a decent record last year, so we just want to build off that. We're stacked with seniors."

Expected to play at forward are seniors Ashley Garbuglis, Catie Gregory, Mae Livingston and Mary Prunte and junior Kathleen Quinn. Seniors Abby Evans and Abbie Wade, juniors Emily Searles and Amanda Stickel and sophomore Sarah Smith are in the midfield, with senior Kaela Smith expected to split time between midfielder and defender.

Others in the back should include seniors Erin Froehlich, Julianne Schmitz and Abigail Selid.

Senior Karen Gilmore is the returning goalkeeper, with junior Olivia Slate serving as the backup.

Last season, the Hawks finished eighth at 6-4-1 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League, behind Columbus Academy (11-0), Thomas Worthington (10-1), Watterson (7-2-2), Bexley and Dublin Coffman (7-3-1), Olentangy Liberty (7-4) and CSG (6-4-1) and ahead of Upper Arlington (6-5), Granville (5-5-1), Dublin Jerome (4-6-1), Olentangy (4-7), Olentangy Orange (2-8-1), Lancaster (1-10), Worthington Kilbourne (0-10-1) and Dublin Scioto (0-11).

Hartley lost to Olentangy 1-0 in the second round of the state-qualifying tournament.