The Centennial High School girls volleyball team is looking to extend its streak of City League championships and its perfection within the City-North Division.
The Stars have won four consecutive City titles. Entering a Sept. 5 match against Columbus International, they had not lost a City-North match since finishing 11-3 in league play in 2011.
However, much has happened since the Stars finished 17-6 overall last season, including 14-0 in the City-North, and beat West 20-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-19 in the City final.
Junior Cindy Jackson transferred to Thomas Worthington and Sophia Carnevale and Denea Ford did not return for their senior seasons, leaving first-year coach Britney Lewis with two returning starters.
"It's not like this is a total rebuilding season because a good volleyball culture has existed here for years," Lewis said. "We have a young team and the girls will have to adjust to my style and rotations, but they seem willing to learn. They're asking questions and trying to adjust to a faster-paced game and those are things I like."
Lewis coached Walnut Ridge from 2013 through last season. She replaced Brad Shaffer, who coached the Stars for one season.
Senior outside hitter Macie Sampson and junior middle hitter Akea Hunter are the returning starters.
"Akea will have a good year and she will need to," Lewis said. "She's pretty consistent with her hits and serves and does a good job passing. She's got a solid all-around game, but I want her to stay aggressive. I want her to power through her hits even when the sets aren't perfect.
"Macie is consistent all around, too. But she's trying to come back from an ankle sprain right now. I think she'll have a good season, though."
The Stars will use junior T'Anna Collins and sophomore Rhian Jones as setters with sophomores Sky Harris (outside hitter) and Naa Dromo Korley (middle hitter) also in the starting lineup.
Senior Sophia Simon, junior Vena Triggs and sophomore Izabelle Segovia are defensive specialists.
"Sky is one of our quickest players and she is passing very well so far," Lewis said. "I think we have good pieces and the goal is for all of them to improve every day. We want to win the City (title) again, but we've got to improve to achieve that (goal)."
The Stars were 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the City-North after beating East 25-23, 25-16, 25-12 on Aug. 31. They beat Mifflin 25-16, 25-16, 25-11 on Aug. 24 and Linden-McKinley 25-13, 26-24, 25-7 on Aug. 29, and lost at Westerville South 25-8, 25-10, 25-9 on Aug. 28.
seek City title
The girls cross country team is seeking to extend its run of City titles to 10 years.
"We know all the City teams would like to see that title go to another team, so we have a big target on our backs and the girls recognize that," 15th-year coach Rhonda Reese said.
Seniors Chloe Fleming and Olivia Turner are expected to lead the way for the Stars, who totaled 22 points to easily outdistance runner-up Northland (73) in the City meet last year.
Turner was league runner-up in 21 minutes, 48 seconds. Centennial took the top four spots, but lost champion Alexis Vance-Townsend (21:20), Hannah Fleming (third, 21:59) and Shannon Branch (fourth, 22:13) to graduation.
"I believe Olivia and Chloe will be our top runners and they may go back and forth as the top two all season, which will make both of them better runners," Reese said. "Chloe fell while rock climbing days before the City meet last year and did not run because of a back injury."
Junior Camilla Richards is returning after competing in the Division I, district 2 meet last year.
Completing the roster are seniors Laren Reesman and Emily Royer, junior Gwen Moran and freshman Giana Francescon.
"We lost a lot of girls last year, but Gwen, Camilla and Laren will do a great job filling their shoes," Reese said.
The boys team lost its top runner to graduation in Xavier Slaughter, but returns seniors Ben Klingler, Luke Zimmerman and Will Zimmerman and junior Kaleb Turner.
The Stars were league runners-up (71) behind Eastmoor Academy (26) last season.
"We have around 16 boys," Reese said. "We would like to win the City, but Eastmoor has some fast boys returning and they qualified as a team to the state meet last year, so they may be hard to beat."
Senior E.J. Macarus and freshman Nick Louder are expected to be contributors as well.
"I believe Kaleb and Will will be our top two with Luke and Nick right behind them," Reese said. "Nick is a very strong runner for a freshman. The seventh runner may alternate for a bit because we've got four boys around the same speed.
"We have six very talented runners who have put in a lot of miles this summer, and all have an attitude of pushing to the limit. We still need to continue to work hard, stay injury free and have a little luck on our side."
Football team to face
The football team will compete this season against few teams that are younger or smaller in terms of depth.
Friday, Sept. 8, will be one of those exceptions when the Stars play host to Fairfield Christian in the first meeting between the programs.
The Knights, who compete in Division VII and finished 7-3 last season, have two returning starters and just 24 players on their roster.
Fairfield Christian lost to Caldwell 54-14 on Aug. 25 and lost to Willow Woods Symmes Valley 43-0 on Sept. 1.
The only returning starters are two-way linemen Jacob Hasl and Jared Walker. Among the graduation losses were three-year starting quarterback Caleb Laubenthal, all-state receiver Isaac Naayers and standout running back/linebacker Niko Moxley.
Against Caldwell, quarterback David Forbes threw for 234 yards, mostly to receivers Wyatt Schultz and Christian Blair. But running backs Corey Sollie, Max Ross and Collin Hamler combined for only 59 yards rushing.
The Knights allowed 30 points in the second quarter and trailed 40-0 at halftime. Defensive leaders are Forbes (DB), Hamler (DB), Hasl (DE), Cameron Letner (LB) and Caleb Mershimer (LB).
Centennial lost its opener to Grandview 30-28 on Aug. 25 and lost to West 64-28 on Sept. 1.
Aug. 26 -- Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion
Sept. 9 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 20 -- Arrowhead Invitational at Whetstone
Sept. 23 -- Don Hardin Invitational at Heath
Oct. 4 -- Backwoods Two-Mile Fest at Thornville Sheridan
Oct. 11 -- City League meet at Whetstone
*Aug. 24 -- at Mifflin
Aug. 28 -- at Westerville South
*Aug. 29 -- at Linden-McKinley
*Aug. 31 -- vs. East
Sept. 2 -- Warrior Invitational at Worthington Christian
*Sept. 5 -- at International
*Sept. 7 -- vs. Whetstone
*Sept. 12 -- at Beechcroft
Sept. 13 -- vs. Eastmoor Academy
*Sept. 14 -- at Northland
*Sept. 19 -- vs. Mifflin
*Sept. 21 -- vs. Linden-McKinley
*Sept. 26 -- at East
Sept. 27 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
*Sept. 28 -- vs. International
*Oct. 3 -- at Whetstone
*Oct. 5 -- vs. Beechcroft
*Oct. 10 -- vs. Northland
Below are the coming schedules for the Centennial boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls tennis teams:
*Sept. 7 -- Mifflin and South at Mentel Memorial
*Sept. 12 -- League match at TBA
Sept. 9 -- At Jonathan Alder
*Sept. 12 -- At East
Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Licking Valley
*Sept. 12 -- At International
Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Village Academy
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Westerville South
*Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Whetstone