The Whetstone High School girls volleyball team has aspirations of knocking rival Centennial off its throne this season.

The Braves finished 13-8 overall last season and went 12-2 in the City League-North Division to finish second behind Centennial, which finished 14-0 and went on to beat West 20-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-19 to capture its fourth consecutive City championship.

Entering play Aug. 31, the Stars had not lost a City-North match since finishing 11-3 in league play in 2011. The Braves will play at Centennial on Thursday, Sept. 7, and will play host to the Stars on Oct. 3.

"Our goal is to win the City (title)," 39th-year coach Errole Rembert said. "That's the goal every year, but (Centennial has) owned it lately. Until someone beats them, they're still the favorite.

"But we have a very good senior group and many of them are fourth-year (varsity) players. I think our maturity will be a factor this year. We don't seem to get rattled in tough situations like we have in past years."

The Braves feature eight seniors, including returning starters Angel Bagley (middle hitter), Hannah Reed (outside hitter) and Whitney Staggs (middle hitter). Sophia McLemore (outside hitter) and Lila Geiger (defensive specialist) also played key roles last year.

Rounding out the senior class are Maci Elicker (outside hitter), Jaiden Garner (outside hitter) and Ava Kowalski (outside hitter).

Sophomore Dahlia Kleen (outside hitter) is another returning starter, while juniors Ellie Henkaline (setter) and Avy Muon (outside hitter) complete the roster.

Reed earned first-team all-league honors last year. Bagley was second-team all-league, and Staggs, McLemore and Kleen all were honorable mention.

"I think we've got talent and we've strengthened our non-league schedule to prepare for the (Division I district tournament)," Rembert said. "We've got some OCC opponents in Groveport and Reynoldsburg, and then there's Whitehall and a tournament in Toledo."

Whetstone was 4-2 overall and 3-0 in the City-North after beating Linden-McKinley 25-2, 25-6, 25-7 on Aug. 31. The Braves lost to Grove City Christian 25-21, 18-25, 25-19, 25-18 on Aug. 20, but defeated Harvest Prep 25-16, 25-18, 25-22 two days later. They fell to Groveport 22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 on Aug. 26.

In league play, Whetstone defeated Beechcroft 25-2, 25-5, 25-6 on Aug. 24 and Mifflin 25-2, 25-10, 25-6 on Aug. 29.

Boys runners look
to contend in City

The boys cross country team returned five runners who competed in the postseason last year and added two freshmen who could make the lineup.

Seniors Sam Khoury and Drew Nederveld are expected to lead the Braves.

"Sam is coming off a great track season and has worked really hard this summer to try to better his chances of getting to regional and maybe state," 25th-year coach Joe Monda said. "Last year, an injury held him out until September and he still earned first-team all-City.

"This is the first summer Drew has been able to do complete workouts because of injuries in previous years. He is looking to challenge Sam as our No. 1 runner."

Khoury placed seventh (18 minutes, 6 seconds) and Nederveld was 12th (18:49) in the City meet last season as the Braves placed fourth (98 points) behind Eastmoor Academy (26), Centennial (71) and South (92). Nederveld was unable to compete in the 16-team Division I, district 2 meet, in which the Braves finished 15th (445).

"Our goals are to try to upset Eastmoor and win the City and try to get two or more runners to regional," Monda said. "We have some talent back and we have a couple of freshmen who will need to come along if we want to challenge for a City title."

Senior Calvin Collins, juniors Emil Adams and Colin Ramsby and sophomore Michael Bossenbroek also have returned after competing at district last season, but they will be challenged by freshmen Matt Conroy and Thaine Nederveld, according to Monda.

Also vying for spots in the lineup are senior Joshea Beard and junior Oliver Kramer.

In their opening meet Aug. 26, the Braves finished seventh (142) behind host Buckeye Valley (51) in the 11-team Baron Blast, as Khoury (20th, 17:53.73), Thaine Nederveld (33rd, 18:36.8), Drew Neder-veld (44th, 18:59.43), Conroy (46th, 19:04.56) and Ramsby (69th, 19:40.79) scored.

The girls team is expected to be led by senior Bryn Van Dommelen and junior Harper Daniel.

"Bryn was first-team all-City as a freshman and sophomore, but dropped to second-team all-City last year," Monda said. "She has been working really hard to try to get back on the first team this year.

"Harper was competing in her first full year of running last year and she earned second-team all-City, so she's looking to improve this year and move up to first team."

Whetstone finished third (80) in the City meet last year behind Centennial (22) and Northland (73), as Van Dommelen placed 10th (23:10) and Daniel was 11th (23:25).

"The girls team would like a top-two finish in the league and at least challenge Centennial," Monda said. "But each runner will have to improve each week. Bryn and Harper could battle for the top spot, but after that, I expect the rest will be battling and changing spots each week."

Seniors Yonna Coleman and Rebeka Spulgis, junior Elizabeth Cobbs and sophomore Lana Tleimat also are back after competing in the Division I, district 3 meet last year when the Braves finished 12th (403) of 14 teams.

Completing the roster are senior Rayna Tijerina, sophomores Adrien DeLapp and Megan Sharp and freshman Micah Stromsoe-DeLorenzo.

Van Dommelen did not compete in the Baron Blast, as the Braves finished eighth (230) of nine teams behind champion Buckeye Valley (54). DeLapp (45th, 24:17.7), Daniel (46th, 24:26.91), Stromsoe-DeLorenzo (62nd, 25:37.67), Cobbs (76th, 26.27.9) and Sharp (82nd, 26:59.38) scored.

Football team preps
to face Whitehall

The football team will be looking to avenge a 38-14 loss to Whitehall last season when it travels to play the Rams on Friday, Sept. 8.

It will be the home opener for Whitehall, which lost to Watterson 41-6 in its opener Aug. 25 and again to Northland 31-28 on Sept. 1.

Last season, the Rams finished 8-3 after losing to Bexley 31-21 in the first round of the Division III, Region 11 playoffs. They have moved up to Division II this year.

Whitehall, which outscored the Braves 21-0 in the fourth quarter of last year's matchup, lost running back Siraj Muhammad to graduation after he was named second-team all-state, but his brother, Rasheed Muhammad, has taken his spot and had 44 yards rushing on 12 carries in the opener.

Raymell Byrd has returned at quarterback for the Rams after sharing duties last season. He ran for 79 yards against Watterson, most of which came on a 65-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and passed for 156.

The Braves lost to Watkins Memorial 13-6 in their opener Aug. 25 and again to Briggs 31-6 on Sept. 1.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug 26 -- Baron Blast at Buckeye Valley

Sept. 9 -- Northland Invitational at Woodward Park

Sept. 16 -- Shin Splint Invitational at Westland

Sept. 20 -- Arrowhead Invitational at home

Sept. 30 -- Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club

Oct. 11 -- City League meet at Whetstone

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 20 -- at Grove City Christian

Aug. 22 -- vs. Harvest Prep

*Aug. 24 -- at Beechcroft

Aug 26 -- at Groveport

*Aug. 29 -- vs. Mifflin

*Aug. 31 -- vs. Linden-McKinley

*Sept. 5 -- at Northland

*Sept. 7 -- at Centennial

Sept. 9 -- at Toledo Christian with Toledo Rogers and Toledo Monclova Christian

*Sept. 12 -- at East

*Sept. 14 -- at Columbus International

*Sept. 19 -- vs. Beechcroft

Sept. 20 -- vs. Whitehall

*Sept. 21 -- at Mifflin

*Sept. 26 -- at Linden-McKinley

*Sept. 28 -- vs. Northland

*Oct. 3 -- vs. Centennial

*Oct. 5 -- vs. East

*Oct. 10 -- vs. Columbus International

Oct. 11 -- at Reynoldsburg

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls tennis teams:

BOYS GOLF

*Sept. 7 -- Walnut Ridge and West at Raymond Memorial

*Sept. 12 -- League match at TBA

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central

Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Linden-McKinley

Sept. 13 -- Home vs. West

GIRLS SOCCER

*Sept. 12 -- At Briggs

GIRLS TENNIS

*Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Linden-McKinley

*Sept. 13 -- At Centennial

*League contest