The Westerville Central High School girls volleyball team's eligible returnees led by a group of four juniors now have something on which to build.

The Westerville Central High School girls volleyball team's eligible returnees led by a group of four juniors now have something on which to build.

After the Warhawks made it to a Division I district final before losing to South 27-25, 25-17, 25-13 in 2005, they lost tournament openers the last two seasons. This season, sixth-seeded Central beat Groveport 31-29, 25-15, 25-14 on Oct. 16 and Central Crossing 21-25, 28-26, 25-22, 25-22 on Oct. 18 before falling to Marys-ville 25-16, 25-21, 13-25, 18-25, 15-13 in a district semifinal Oct. 22 at Licking Heights.

The match against the Monarchs was an example of the Warhawks' learning curve.

"It was probably the hardest end-of-the-season match I've ever been involved in," said coach Shaun Servick, whose team finished 18-7. "(Senior Dara Toman was) the only one who's been in a match that's meaningful before, and that was when she was a freshman.

"We started out the first two games worrying about things we couldn't control before we really bonded together and played the way we could. It was just an experience thing. They didn't know how to play in this kind of situation."

Toman, who was a key player since her freshman year and will play softball for Cleveland State, made first-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division and first-team all-district. Senior Hannah Byers was honorable mention all-league and senior Nicole Lorenz was the OCC scholar-athlete.

Junior Rhayne Smitherman, who was in her second year as a starter and made second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, should be the top returnee.

Others eligible to return include juniors Haley Agee, Molly Baatz and Jamiee Neal. Sophomore Kelley Plas should step in at setter next year for Kaela Mains, who also was one of six seniors.

Central tied Dublin Scioto for third at 9-5 in the OCC-Cardinal behind Olentangy (13-1) and Marysville (10-4) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (6-8), Olentangy Liberty (5-9), North (4-10) and South (0-14).

"There's no doubt that this was a very successful season," Servick said. "These underclassmen learned from the upperclassmen. The freshmen and sophomores got the luxury of having this group of seniors."

•Although it finished 11-14 overall, North surprised a pair of seeded teams and made it to a district semifinal before losing to eighth-seeded Newark 25-23, 25-22, 17-25, 25-18 on Oct. 21 at Licking Heights.

The Warriors, who opened the postseason with wins over ninth-seeded Scioto 25-19, 19-25, 25-12, 19-25, 15-5 on Oct. 16 and 10th-seeded Upper Arlington 25-21, 25-13, 19-25, 25-13 on Oct. 18, will lose five seniors.

Meagen Lutz, who made first-team all-OCC and second-team all-district, led a group that also included Kelsey Bovenizer, Christine Frazier, Cameron Kahle and Emily Saunders. Frazier was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district and Kahle was honorable mention all-OCC. Bovenizer was a four-year varsity player.

Junior Catie Kilbane, who will return for her third season as a starter next year, is expected to lead the returnees. Lindsey Martindale, who was the junior varsity setter, likely will step into the role next year in place of Bovenizer.

"The biggest thing for the seniors is that they wanted to have a winning season," coach Aaron Hastings said. "They weren't able to do that, but with everything that happened in the tournament, that was enough for them. I would have liked to have seen us go to the district championship, but the excitement was unreal. I talked to Kelsey Bovenizer's parents and they just said it was a good feeling to be in a district semifinal instead of losing in the first round.

"We do have a couple of middle hitters coming up. I really have high hopes for next year."

At a glance

CENTRAL

•Record: 18-7 overall, 9-5 (tied for third) in OCC-Cardinal

•Seniors lost: Hannah Byers, Erica Dye, Colleen Leach, Nicole Lorenz, Kaela Mains and Dara Toman

•Key returnees: Haley Agee, Molly Baatz, Jamiee Neal and Rhayne Smitherman

NORTH

•Record: 11-14 overall, 4-10 (seventh) in OCC-Cardinal

•Seniors lost: Kelsey Bovenizer, Christine Frazier, Cameron Kahle, Meagen Lutz and Emily Saunders

•Key returnees: Natalie Baumgardner, Caitie Kilbane, Kayla Lutz and Lindsey Martindale

SOUTH

•Record: 4-17 overall, 0-14 (eighth) in OCC-Cardinal

•Seniors lost: Leah Boatright, Katherine Calo and Dara Littig

•Key returnees: Kaitlyn Boroff, Hannah Grohoske and Rachel Ross