When the Whetstone High School girls lacrosse team took to the field for the first time March 29, it was a joyous occasion despite how the game unfolded.

"It didn't matter what the final score was, and it didn't matter that we were shorthanded. All that mattered is that the girls had fun and got to see the benefits of the work we've done starting this program and the work that lies ahead," coach Kate Knisley said. "It was a fun atmosphere and fun night."

The first-year Braves have 14 players on their roster, but only 11 were available in a 19-4 loss at Hilliard Darby in the opener. Whetstone's scheduled opener against Wellington on March 27 was postponed because of bad weather.

"The girls are really excited about this," said Knisley, who played at Upper Arlington before graduating in 2004 and served as an assistant coach at UA the past two seasons. "They are constantly improving. They're watching videos, attending Ohio State games and they have a potential to be pretty good for a first-year team. We were missing three against Darby because two had prior commitments and another hasn't turned in her physical form yet."

Knisley, a 2009 Ohio State graduate, joined the Peace Corps after college and coached a first-year team at Lancaster (South Carolina) Buford before returning to central Ohio. She is a special education teacher at Columbus West.

"I think being a program's first coach doesn't faze me because I have proven to have good patience and attention to detail through working as a special education teacher," Knisley said. "I can see the potential in every child and every student-athlete.

"When I applied to be coach, I started helping with the (Whetstone) girls soccer team last fall. (Coach Doug Koehler) encouraged the girls to play lacrosse this spring, and I was able to steal some of them."

Sophomores Olivia Evans (goalkeeper), Olivia Mullins (midfielder) and Ellis Scanlon-Kimura (defender) played soccer last fall.

"Olivia Evans also was a goalkeeper in soccer, so she's right at home," Knisley said.

"Olivia Mullins is a hard worker and hustles all over the field.

"We have some girls doing some good things already, even though we know this will be a learning season and that we have to continue to work on fundamentals every day. We've got two other midfielders playing well in (sophomore) Alea Millington and (freshman) Mia Howard-Stevens. Alea is a basketball player who understands footwork and she's got some good speed."

Knisley said several players could switch positions early in the season.

Sierra Bell is the lone senior on the squad and there are no juniors. Completing the roster are sophomores Deborah Jager, Kaitlyn Keegan, Elizabeth Martin and Alyssa Proudfoot and freshmen Keylee Ballenger, Taylor Jones, Lizbeth Osorio and Beyonce Shrestha.

Boys volleyball team to 'remain patient'

The boys volleyball team could have trouble replicating the success it had last season, when it finished 13-7 and was ranked in the Division II state poll for the first time since 2009.

"We have a lot of first-year players and we're going to remain patient and we'll eventually be OK," said 19th-year coach Errole Rembert, whose team lost to host DeSales 25-14, 25-8, 25-12 in the first round of last year's East Region tournament. "It'll just take some time to blend in all of the new kids."

The Braves returned four players, but only one starter in junior outside hitter Nathan Vokac. Also back are senior middle hitters Manny Clarke and David Maston and sophomore setter Faizon Thomas.

"Three of the four returnees have little experience themselves, then you add in 10 new faces on top of them," said Rembert, whose team is 0-3 after losing to Briggs 25-6, 25-11, 25-20 on March 23, Northland 25-1, 25-16, 25-13 on May 27 and Eastmoor Academy 25-12, 25-16, 25-14 on March 29. "Right now, we're starting at volleyball 101, the ground floor."

In addition to the four returnees, seeing time as a starter thus far have been seniors Brenton Morrison (setter) and Abe Marzouk (outside hitter), junior Gabe Reeves (outside hitter) and freshman Emmitt Schwier (outside hitter).

Completing the roster are junior Gianni Signorio (outside hitter) and sophomores Jaden Arledge (middle hitter), Malik Daiy (outside hitter), Mohamed Diallo (middle hitter), Kyjuan Glass (middle hitter) and Sari Ophman (back row).

"This will be a good learning year for next year," Rembert said. "Right now, we need to be a lot more aggressive, but that will come. They're tentative and afraid to make mistakes because they're young. But that will change."

Boys tennis team has experience

The boys tennis team opened the season with a 3-2 win over Centennial on March 26, and that match could prove pivotal in the race for the City League-North Division title like it did a year ago.

Last season, the Braves lost 4-1 to Centennial and the Stars went on to win the league title at 5-0. Whetstone was league runner-up at 4-1 and finished 10-3 overall.

The top five players in last season's postseason lineup have returned for 15th-year coach Bucky Walters.

Sophomores Kaleb White and Colin Harmon-Ulmer are back at the top two spots in singles and senior Kal Buterbaugh is back at third singles.

"Kaleb, although a sophomore, brings quite a bit of tennis experience with him," Walters said. "He has a solid all-around game from the baseline to the net. Colin is also a sophomore with lots of tennis experience. He is more of a baseline player and he's very coachable."

In doubles, seniors Atticus Bulgrin and Armando Prince also return after being paired in the Division I sectional last season.

Last year in the City coaches tournament, Prince and Bulgrin took first place in doubles.

Competing for positions at second doubles are seniors Jared Brown and James Bollas and sophomore Louis Schirmer.

Also on the team are sophomores Blackford Buterbaugh, Preston Buterbaugh, Conner Gott, Elijah Lothrup, Verich Luu and Michael Vedovato.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

GIRLS LACROSSE

March 27 -- vs. Wellington

March 29 -- at Hilliard Darby

April 12 -- at Columbus School for Girls

April 20 -- vs. Watterson

April 23 -- at Centennial

April 26 -- vs. Buckeye Valley

April 23 -- at Centennial

April 30 -- vs. Hartley

May 1 -- at Pickerington North

May 8 -- at Westerville South

May 10 -- at Hilliard Davidson

BOYS TENNIS

*March 26 -- vs. Centennial

*March 28 -- vs. Beechcroft

April 9 -- vs. Grandview

*April 11 -- vs. Northland

April 12 -- vs. DeSales

*April 13 -- at Linden McKinley

*April 16 -- vs. Mifflin

April 18 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

April 19 -- vs. Ready

April 26 -- at Thomas Worthington

April 27 -- at Hartley

May 1 -- vs. Franklin Heights

May 3 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

May 7 -- at Watterson

May 8 -- vs. Teays Valley

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

March 23 -- vs. Briggs

March 27 -- at Northland

March 29 -- at Eastmoor Academy

April 7 -- at Reynoldsburg with Chillicothe

April 16 -- at Thomas Worthington

April 17 -- at New Albany

April 19 -- vs. Northland

April 24 -- at Briggs

April 26 -- vs. Beechcroft

April 28 -- vs. Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph and Westerville South

May 1 -- vs. Eastmoor Academy

May 2 -- at Licking Heights

May 10 -- at Watterson

May 15 -- at DeSales

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone baseball and softball teams:

BASEBALL

April 5 -- At Ready

*April 9 -- Home vs. Northland

*April 11 -- At Beechcroft

SOFTBALL

April 5 -- At Grandview

April 7 -- At Hamilton Township (DH)

*April 9 -- Home vs. Northland

*April 11 -- At Beechcroft

*League contest