In the process of setting goals before the season, members of the Canal Winchester High School girls volleyball team pored over their schedule and tried to figure out a realistic record.
The senior-laden Indians, who were 5-4 before their OCC-Capital Division opener against Big Walnut on Sept. 5, never were planning on an undefeated season.
"Our goal is to be 19-4," senior setter Audrey Jenkins said. "We think that's the number of matches we can realistically win. We're really trying to get out (ahead) early in our games and push the play hard and finish when we have the chance."
Third-year coach Dana Stearns thinks stronger finishes will be the key if Canal Winchester is to contend for the OCC-Capital championship and win a postseason match for the first time since 2013.
The Indians finished 13-10 overall a year ago, losing to Watkins Memorial 22-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-20, 15-10 in the first round of Division I district tournament.
"If the girls come out and play to the best of their ability and have that mental toughness and consistency, it is possible for us to win a lot of matches," Stearns said. "We are playing a lot of teams we didn't beat last year, but we were in close matches against them.
"Last year, we had so, so many close matches where we'd get to 20 (points) first and not finish the match. We had a lot of opportunities to beat some really good teams and we didn't finish them. That's the focus for this year."
Eight seniors dot the roster, led by Jada Butler (outside hitter), Jenkins, Astrid Munthe (middle blocker), Lauren Toledo (defensive special-ist/libero) and Brooklyn Wolfe (right-side hitter). At 6-foot-1, Wolfe is the team's tallest player.
"We aren't going to sky over other teams," Stearns said. "We have to beat teams with defense and ball control."
Butler had a team-high 186 kills last year. Toledo, a Tennessee Tech commit, led the Indians in digs with 358.
Canal Winchester started 3-0, with wins over host Dublin Scioto (22-25, 25-21, 26-24) and Hamilton Township (24-26, 25-20, 25-23) on Aug. 19 and a 25-10, 25-11, 25-16 sweep of Central Crossing in the Indians' home opener Aug. 22.
The Indians added wins over Bloom-Carroll (25-22, 25-17 on Aug. 26) and Westland (25-11, 25-12, 25-17 on Aug. 29) and lost to Lancaster (25-19, 19-25, 25-15, 26-24 on Aug. 24), Grove City (25-13, 20-25, 25-17 on Aug. 26), Hartley (25-5, 25-16 on Aug. 26) and Pickerington North (25-20, 21-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-10 on Aug. 31).
"We're chasing balls and getting them back over the net, making a play out of something that otherwise would have been nothing," Toledo said. "Last year, we let things drop at times when we shouldn't have. Now, we make something of it. It's paid off."
Rounding out the roster are seniors Hannah Hiser (setter), Emily Sarles (outside hitter) and Emily Sotlar (back-row specialist), juniors Kara Balsimo (middle blocker/right-side hitter), Samantha McDonnell (defensive specialist) and Kailey Waller (defensive specialist/setter), sophomores Shalea Byrd (middle blocker), Amanda Rarick (outside hitter/right-side hitter) and Jayanna Thompson (outside hitter/right-side hitter) and freshman Emi Waller (defensive specialist).
The Indians went 6-4 in the OCC-Capital last year to finish third behind co-champions Big Walnut and New Albany (both 9-1).
Top cross country
Cross country coach Jeff Kline acknowledges his teams have a good chance to move up one spot in the OCC-Capital standings and sweep the league championships.
The girls team returns all of its top seven runners from a year ago and the boys squad brings back five of its top seven, although it lost its top two runners in 2017 graduates Ethan Fusek and Luke Schirr.
Coupled with the fact that the program is as large as it's ever been -- 34 girls and 29 boys, both all-time highs, according to Kline -- the Indians are optimistic about their prospects.
"We have a good corps of runners," said Kline, who is in his fifth season. "Middle School coach Michelle Klamorick has been an outstanding recruiter, even beginning a 'Junior Runners' club in June for grades 3-6. Assistant coach Tim Kovacs has done an outstanding job recruiting at the high school and our senior captains have done an outstanding job recruiting the sport to their classmates."
Senior Paige Bormann led the girls in the season-opening New Albany Classic on Aug. 21, finishing eighth in 20 minutes, 49 seconds as the Indians finished sixth (153) of 13 teams behind champion Fairfield Union (52).
Also scoring were senior Erica Babusci (20th, 22:18) and freshmen Erin Duckworth (38th, 23:34), Bonnie Butler (42nd, 23:46) and Allena Klamorick (49th, 24:03).
Babusci was a Division I regional qualifier last year, finishing 34th.
Other returnees include seniors Katelyn Genther, Kassidy Pastor and Kaitlyn Swearingen, junior Bethany Hinkle and sophomores Ayiana Houston and Lauren Young.
The girls scored 47 points at last year's OCC-Capital meet to place second to Newark (40).
The boys were almost as close to the Wildcats last year, scoring 34 points in the league meet to place second behind Newark (25).
Canal Winchester finished third (120) in the 14-team New Albany Classic behind champion Bexley (62).
Sophomore Reece Klamorick was eighth (18:04), followed by senior Evan Young (19th, 18:43), freshman Brett Smithers (24th, 18:53), senior James Moore (29th, 19:09) and sophomore Drew Kotwis (44th, 19:40).
Also in the Indians' top 10 at New Albany were senior Thomas Duckworth and freshmen Nate Hoffman, Ian Lewis, Michael McKeon and Conner Ruth.
"I am counting on Will Butler and Reece Klamorick to improve and help fill the void left by (Fusek and Schirr)," Kline said. "The larger roster size should improve our depth."
Both teams finished fourth in the Canal Winchester Invitational on Aug. 30. The boys totaled 102 points to finish behind champion Grandview (68) in the 21-team field, while the girls had 121 points to finish behind champion Fairfield Union (56) in the 16-team field.
Boys golfers remain
in third place in OCC
John Harper's round of 82 and an 85 from Trevor Mays in the third round of the OCC-Capital tournament Aug. 30 at Turnberry kept the boys golf team in third place in the league entering the fourth and final round Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Apple Valley.
Canal Winchester shot a 358 to place third behind New Albany (313) and Big Walnut (323) and ahead of Newark (428). Franklin Heights and Groveport did not record team scores.
Also scoring for the Indians were Jake Eggleston (94) and Noah Cox (97).
Canal Winchester is 9-6 in the league, behind New Albany (15-0) and Big Walnut (12-3) and ahead of Newark (6-9), Groveport (2-13) and Franklin Heights (1-14).
"As a team, if everything is clicking, we can come in at 75, 85, 85 and 90. That's 20 or so shots off right there," coach Kevin Barhorst said. "For most of our guys, that's about controlling their iron shots. They are driving the ball, but we are missing greens and that leads to bogeys."
girls golf team
The girls golf team will try to claim sole possession of fourth place in the OCC-Central, if not better, during the fourth and final round of the league tournament Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Royal American.
Canal Winchester is 5-10 in the league, tied with Hilliard Davidson for fourth behind Upper Arlington (15-0), Dublin Coffman (12-3) and New Albany (6-9) and ahead of Marysville (2-13).
In the third round Aug. 29 at Mentel Memorial, Rachel Hatley's round of 80 led the Indians, who scored a 372 to place fifth behind UA (308), Coffman (316), New Albany (335) and Davidson (351) and ahead of Marysville (375).
Also scoring for the Indians were Leah Arndt (94), Abby Vaughan (96) and Morgan Gleadle (102).
Football team renews
rivalry with Vikings
The football team will try to continue its dominance of former MSL-Buckeye rival Teays Valley when it plays host to the Vikings on Friday, Sept. 8.
Canal Winchester has won six consecutive games against Teays Valley, having defeated the Vikings every year from 2007-12, and are 9-1 in the series' past 10 games.
The teams have not faced each other since Canal Winchester joined the OCC before the 2013-14 school year.
Canal Winchester is 1-1 after defeating Athens 27-12 on Sept. 1.
Although the Indians saw some success rushing the football in a 27-20 double-overtime loss to Teays Valley to open the season Aug. 25, coach Josh Stratton wants more of an emphasis on the passing game. Jacob Robertson rushed for 149 yards, but Stanton Smith completed seven of 15 passes for 90 yards in addition to running for a touchdown.
"We have to build confidence in our passing game from a coaching standpoint and the players' standpoint," Stratton said before the Athens game. "If we want to run the ball well, the best way for us to do that is by establishing an effective passing game."
Teays Valley also is 1-1 after defeating Logan 35-7 on Sept. 1.
The Vikings lost to Chillicothe 31-27 on Aug. 25 despite amassing 347 yards of offense. Running back Eric Yates rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries and quarterback Brandon Coleman completed 11 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns, one of which went to Taylor Robinson.
Aug. 21 -- New Albany Classic
Aug. 30 -- Canal Winchester Invitational
Sept. 2 -- Westerville North Classic
Sept. 16 -- Newark Invitational
Sept. 23 -- Tiger Invitational at Pickerington Central
Sept. 30 -- Cambridge Invitational
Oct. 7 -- Marion Harding Invitational
Oct. 14 -- OCC-Capital at Lancaster
Aug. 19 -- at Dublin Scioto with Hamilton Township
Aug. 22 -- vs. Central Crossing
Aug. 24 -- at Lancaster
Aug. 26 -- at Bloom-Carroll with Grove City and Hartley
Aug. 29 -- at Westland
Aug. 31 -- vs. Pickerington North
*Sept. 5 -- vs. Big Walnut
*Sept. 7 -- at Groveport
Sept. 9 -- vs. Thomas Worthington with Watkins Memorial
*Sept. 12 -- at Franklin Heights
*Sept. 14 -- vs. New Albany
*Sept. 19 -- at Newark
Sept. 20 -- at Teays Valley
*Sept. 26 -- at Big Walnut
*Sept. 28 -- vs. Groveport
*Oct. 3 -- vs. Franklin Heights
*Oct. 5 -- at New Albany
*Oct. 10 -- vs. Newark
Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls tennis teams:
Sept. 9 -- Liberty Union Invitational at Pine Hill
Sept. 13 -- OCC-Capital at Apple Valley
Sept. 7 -- Hilliard Darby at West-chester
Sept. 11 -- Gahanna and Upper Arlington at Kyber Run
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Central at Royal American
Sept. 7 -- At Upper Arlington
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Granville
*Sept. 12 -- At Big Walnut
*Sept. 7 -- At Newark
Sept. 9 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament
Sept. 11 -- At Reynoldsburg
Sept. 12 -- At Westland
Sept. 13 -- At Whitehall