Coach Dylan Johnson was all smiles as his Westerville North High School girls volleyball team celebrated behind him.
The Warriors just had defeated visiting Licking Heights 15-25, 25-23, 30-28 on Sept. 9 to win their fifth match in 11 contests. That matched their win total of last season when they finished 5-17.
"We're doing so much better all-around than last year," said Johnson, whose team was 0-2 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Olentangy Liberty on Sept. 12. "We're 5-6 overall (before playing Liberty) and both the j.v. and freshman teams are 6-5. We've seen so much improvement."
Senior outside hitter Claire Dawson said last season's struggles have made the team stronger.
"We knew we had to get better and we put in a lot of work over the summer," she said. "We would come in six days a week for three hours a day -- sometimes six hours on Saturdays. That hard work is paying off for us now."
North defeated Marysville 28-26, 25-19, 25-20 on Aug. 24 and both Central Crossing 25-19, 25-5 and Newark 21-25, 25-14, 27-25 on Sept. 2. They also defeated Reynoldsburg 25-17, 23-25, 25-21 on Sept. 9.
"We're a small team and a young team with three sophomores playing for us," Dawson said. "Everyone has been going out and giving all that they have."
North has only seven varsity players, but that's how Johnson wants it.
The roster also includes seniors Chrissy Fite (setter) and Maddie Szaw-ranskyj (outside hitter), junior Cameron Calhoun (middle blocker) and sophomores Clarke Gilchrist (middle blocker), Ameena Freeman (libero) and Lily Miller (outside hitter).
"We also dress three j.v. kids during some league matches, but for the most part we have our seven," Johnson said. "Having a smaller group helps them to jell together as a team and really get to know each other on the court. It helps them to find a rhythm out there."
The Warriors lost league matches to Westerville Central 25-21, 22-25, 25-13, 15-25, 17-15 on Sept. 5 and Olentangy 25-13, 25-12, 21-25, 25-13 on Sept. 7. Last fall, they finished 2-8 in league matches with wins over Westerville South.
"The attitude has been great this season and everyone wants to be here," Dawson said. "That wasn't always the case last year. We have to keep working hard and work on our communication. You can always improve your communication on the court."
Dawson said this being Johnson's second season has been helpful since the players know what to expect.
"Coach knows us and we know him and his expectations," she said. "He organized things over the summer to help make us better and it has worked for us.
"It's important for us to keep a positive attitude and we can't let things fall apart. We have to keep this going. I'm really confident in where this team is heading."
Girls tennis team
The girls tennis team was 3-6 overall after losing to Delaware 3-2 on Sept. 11 and finished 1-4 in the OCC-Buckeye, behind champion Liberty (5-0).
The Warriors defeated South 5-0 on Sept. 5 for their league victory. Gabrielle Cochran, Reilly Cochran and Kaley Cossette won in singles, and the teams of Maddie Jones and Tatiana Slesnick and Arianna Guerra and Aubrey McMahon won in doubles.
In other league matches, North lost to Central 4-1 on Aug. 24, Olentangy 5-0 on Aug. 29, Liberty 5-0 on Aug. 31 and Olentangy Orange 5-0 on Sept. 7.
The Warriors also defeated Whitehall 5-0 on Aug. 15 and Eastmoor Academy 5-0 on Aug. 23.
Girls soccer team
opens league play
The girls soccer team had lost four consecutive games before defeating Central 1-0 on Sept. 11 in its OCC-Buckeye opener.
Trinity Hassey scored for North, which improved to 3-4 overall. Goalkeeper Bethany Worm had two saves.
The Warriors scored only three goals in the four-game skid. They lost to Hilliard Darby 5-1 on Aug. 24 and Upper Arlington 3-2 on Aug. 26 before being shut out by New Albany 3-0 on Aug. 29 and Marysville 2-0 on Sept. 5.
Boys soccer team
drops first seven games
The boys soccer team was 0-7 entering its OCC-Buckeye opener Sept. 12 against Central.
The Warriors suffered three consecutive shutouts before losing to Thomas Worthington 8-3 on Sept. 7. They lost to Pickerington North 8-0 on Aug. 31, Gahanna 2-0 on Sept. 2 and Marysville 5-0 on Sept. 5.
Against Thomas, Jovonni Auddino scored twice and Nick Thompson scored once.
Below are the coming schedules for the North cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 16 -- Central Ohio Invitational at Three Creeks Metro Park
Sept. 20 -- Bexley and Canal Winchester at Westchester
Sept. 14 -- At Canal Winchester
*Sept. 19 -- At Olentangy
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Olentangy
Sept. 14 -- Home vs. DeSales
Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Groveport
Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
Sept. 20 -- Home vs. Westland
*Sept. 14 -- At Westerville South
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange