The Whetstone High School girls volleyball team continues to roll toward its goal of winning the City League-North Division title and reaching the City championship match.
The Braves were 12-3 overall and 8-0 in the league before playing at Linden-McKinley on Sept. 26, and will play host to Northland in a league match Thursday, Sept. 28. That leads into a big rematch with four-time defending City champion Centennial on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at home.
"We haven't won the City championship since 1992 and I think that's the last time we've been there," coach Errole Rembert said. "We've got such a veteran group that really wants to get that accomplished this year. Northland gave us somewhat of a test in the first round and we realize that it'll be more of a battle this time.
"The same goes with Centennial. They're pretty young and I'm sure they've improved. We can't expect to win in three games again. We've got to be prepared and ready for a tougher battle from them, too. What I like is that we have both of those matches at home."
The Braves beat the Vikings 25-9, 25-16, 25-19 on Sept. 5 and beat the Stars 25-11, 25-13, 25-16 two days later.
The win over Centennial snapped the Stars' league winning streak that dated to 2011. Centennial had won 76 consecutive City-North matches since the start of the 2012 season and had not lost to a City opponent since falling 25-27, 26-24, 25-22, 25-19 to Eastmoor Academy in the City championship match in 2012.
Whetstone rolled past Beechcroft 25-11, 25-8, 25-13 on Sept. 19 and Mifflin 25-8, 25-9, 25-9 on Sept. 21, but fell to Whitehall 25-19, 21-25, 19-25, 25-23, 15-4 in a non-league match Sept. 20.
"(The Whitehall match) was the first time all season we've been extended to a fifth game," Rembert said. "We came close to winning it in the fourth game, but didn't finish. Then (Whitehall) pulled away. Our girls weren't used to the physical or mental part of what a fifth game entails, at least this year.
"But the girls are playing well overall. They're meshing well and everyone is doing their roles. (Setter) Hannah Reed has been playing extraordinarily well and Whitney Staggs and Angel Bagley are hitting and blocking well in the middle. Dahlia Kleen and Lila Geiger are passing well, and Maci Elicker and Sophia McLemore are hitting well."
Girls soccer team's
City streak snapped
The girls soccer team lost to Centennial for the first time in 11 games, falling to the host Stars 2-1 on Sept. 19.
The Braves rebounded to defeat Briggs 5-0 on Sept. 21 to clinch a spot in the City championship game Oct. 12 at Mapfre Stadium against Centennial.
"We defeated Briggs while missing three starters," first-year coach Doug Kohler said. "I took what I learned from the Centennial game and applied it to (the Briggs) game. The girls responded and put together a very complete team game. I'm very proud of their resilience and continued improvement.
"The loss to Centennial was a tough loss and I got outcoached. We'll be better (in the home rematch Tuesday, Oct. 3)."
The Braves and Stars have played in every City championship game, with Whetstone winning the past five after Centennial won the inaugural contest 1-0 in 2011. Until Sept. 19, the Braves hadn't lost a league game since and had beaten the Stars in 10 consecutive meetings.
Centennial led 1-0 at halftime before Lily Mathys tied the score early in the second half. The Stars scored the winning goal with about seven minutes remaining. Goalkeeper Olivia Evans made 11 saves for the Braves.
Whetstone was 6-3 overall before playing Teays Valley on Sept. 27 and is 2-1 in the league entering a home game Thursday, Sept. 28, against International.
The Braves had a Sept. 16 game against Whitehall canceled because the Rams did not have enough players.
Football team seeks
third straight victory
The football team defeated Linden-McKinley 20-6 on Sept. 22 and will be seeking its third consecutive victory when it travels to Northland on Friday, Sept. 29.
Even though the Braves have won their past two games, coach Don Poff realizes his team must play better against the Vikings, who won last year's meeting 32-30.
"Northland is a well-coached, aggressive football team that can run and pass on offense and has a lot of weapons," he said. "They're usually pretty physical on defense.
"To keep winning, we're going to need to play a mistake-free game."
Whetstone and Northland both enter the contest 2-3 overall, but the Braves are 2-0 in the City-North and the Vikings are 1-1 after losing to Mifflin 48-34 on Sept. 22.
In a 62-13 win over Centennial on Sept. 15, Northland posted 482 total yards, including 256 passing with four touchdowns on just 10 completions.
The Vikings are led offensively by running backs John Branham Jr. and Mike Williams, receivers Khalil Branham and Jesse Prewitt III and quarterback Mike White. The Branhams are brothers.
Leading Northland's defense are linebackers Alfie Banks and Ezekiel Hannon, nose tackle Jordan McCall and Williams in the secondary.
Whetstone used a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns by T.J. Johnson to break a 6-all tie against Linden.
Johnson scored on a 12-yard run and then grabbed an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Terris Crider.
The Braves took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter when Anthony Mirando returned a fumbled punt 14 yards for a touchdown. Lincoln Mullins forced the fumble with his tackle.
"We made a number of big plays on defense," Poff said. "(Defensive back) Ibrahim Sesay had two interceptions, (lineman) Gerard Reynolds had two sacks and Johnson and Mullins had great games at linebacker. (Defensive back) Oshea Jones also played well.
"I also thought Johnson and Mullins played well on offense with some hard football runs."
Boys golf team
seeks City title
Despite losing to Centennial 213-230 on Sept. 21 for its first loss of the season, the boys golf team remained in first place in the City entering this week and has a chance to repeat as league champion during the City tournament Thursday, Sept. 28, at Airport.
The regular-season standings were not finalized until after a Sept. 26 match between Centennial, Briggs and Northland at Raymond Memorial.
The Braves will compete in a Division I sectional Tuesday, Oct. 3, at Turnberry. The top four teams and top four individuals not on a qualifying team advance to district Oct. 10 at Apple Valley.
Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 30 -- Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Sept. 28 -- City League tournament at Airport
Oct. 4 -- Division I sectional at Clover Valley
*Sept. 28 -- At International
*Oct. 3 -- At Centennial
*Sept. 28 -- Home vs. International
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Centennial
Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Westerville South in makeup from Aug. 28
Oct. 2 -- City championship at TBD
*Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Northland. The Braves beat the Vikings 25-9, 25-16, 25-19 on Sept. 5.
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Centennial. The Braves beat the Stars 25-11, 25-13, 25-16 on Sept. 7.