Pierce Monnin believes everything is coming together for the Westerville North High School boys volleyball team.
The setter/outside hitter is one of eight seniors for the Warriors, who are working to improve on last season's finish of 9-14 overall and 3-5 in the OCC-Buckeye Division. They tied Liberty for third in the league behind Westerville South (8-0) and Olentangy (6-2).
Monnin and senior middle hitter Deyante Johnson both used the word "chemistry" to describe what has been working well early on for the Warriors, who were 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the league before playing Liberty on April 10.
"We have a lot of seniors this year and we have been playing together since middle school," Monnin said. "We have the chemistry that we didn't have in the past."
Johnson and Monnin are among the reasons the Warriors are starting to jell.
"I think (the players) have good chemistry, and we play well together," Johnson said. "As a freshman I always looked up to the seniors and I watched what they did and it motivated me. I want to be able to do that for the younger kids now."
North is led by first-year coach Eva Opitz, who was an assistant in both of Lisa Molnar's two seasons as coach.
"I would say we have great cohesiveness," Opitz said. "If we make a mistake, we're accepting that and going on to the next play. You don't always have that."
Josh Brown (libero/defensive specialist), Travis Furman (outside hitter/defensive specialist), Marcus Raine (right-side hitter), Zach Richards (outside hitter), Clay Stickney (setter/outside hitter) and Tyler Walden (right-side hitter) round out the senior class.
Amrit Adhikari (outside hitter/defensive specialist) and Nick Thompson (middle hitter) are juniors, and Austin Bealer (defensive specialist/outside hitter) is a sophomore.
"Our team has a lot of potential," Opitz said. "What we have been doing in practice is translating into the matches."
The Warriors defeated Westerville Central 25-13, 25-17, 25-21 on April 3 and lost to Olentangy 25-14, 25-16, 25-17 on April 5 in a pair of league matches.
They then finished third in the Raider Classic on April 7 at Reynoldsburg. North defeated Xenia 25-7, 25-9 and Chillicothe 25-15, 23-25, 25-10 but lost to Olentangy Orange 25-20, 23-25, 25-22.
"One thing we have been talking about is consistency in our intensity," Opitz said. "We have to come in with the same intensity every day in practice, not just some days. Every day for those two hours, you have to show up. That's the only way to get where you want to be."
Boys tennis coach excited by potential
New coach Uy Nguyen has inherited a young boys tennis team.
Nguyen was an assistant last spring under Rob Carlson, who left after four seasons. He also was an assistant to Carlson with the girls program.
Seniors Trent McFarland and Reese Nguyen, the coach's son, saw time on varsity last season, when the Warriors finished 10-6 overall and placed fourth (2-3) in the OCC-Buckeye behind champion Orange (5-0).
"We really only return two players with extensive varsity experience," coach Nguyen said. "We have a good core group, and the guys have experience with the game, but they need varsity experience."
Playing singles are McFarland (first), Reese Nguyen (second) and freshman Jeffrey Evans (third), while the doubles teams are junior Jason Walden and freshman Carter Jones (first) and juniors Henry Passerello and Ervan Rodgers (second).
Rounding out the roster are senior Lukas Liazkay and junior Gaaid Ahmed.
"The strength of this group is in their outlook," coach Nguyen said. "We have good core fundamentals and we have a good positive energy. I think that can help us win a lot of the 50-50 matches."
The Warriors were 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Olentangy on April 10. They opened with a 3-2 league win over Central on April 5 as McFarland and Reese Nguyen won in singles, and Passerello and Rodgers won at second doubles.
North also lost to Columbus Academy 4-0 on April 6.
Sprinters expected to lead boys track team
A talented corps of sprinters likely will set the pace for the boys track and field team, but coach Johnny Jackson will have to wait to find out for sure.
The Warriors were supposed to open in the Stingel Invitational on April 7 at Pickerington North, but the meet was canceled. They're now scheduled to open Wednesday, April 18, in the Gahanna Relays.
"I like to get a month of practice in before going to compete in a meet," said Jackson, who is in his 13th season. "I like the kids to get a good three or four weeks of practice to make sure they are ready. We're getting that this year."
Seniors Carter Hudnell, Mamady Kaba and Dorian Reynolds and juniors Parish Boahan, Ryan Cooper, Noah Gilbert and Cyrus Neville are the top sprinters. Senior Julian Slate and Neville lead the hurdlers.
"The sprints are probably our strength," Jackson said. "We have some good kids coming back and we have some good 400 runners that we can put in the sprints. We'll have guys trying new things this year."
Junior Jeremiah Burton returns to lead the throwers after placing ninth in the shot put (48 feet, 5 1/2 inches) in the Division I regional meet last season.
Senior Will Steele, sophomore Brian Nganga and freshman Isaiah Hutcherson lead the distance corps.
"We may be young on the distance side, but I think we'll be OK," Jackson said. "Jeremiah is strong is the throws, and we'll see who can join him in that. We're also trying to figure out who will be in the jumps for us, but (senior) Austin Ebbrecht will try pole-vaulting for us."
Girls team returns three regional participants
The girls track team has three athletes back from two relays that competed in the Division I regional meet.
Junior Riley Welsheimer and sophomores Jalyse Cornley and Jaiden Stokes joined 2017 graduate Karli Royer on the 10th-place 800-meter relay (1 minutes, 44.89 seconds) and 1,600 relay (4:06.1).
"Riley is a workhorse in the relays and no one is going to outwork her or Jaiden," said Jackson, who is in his 15th season as girls coach. "Jalyse is coming back from a knee injury she had in basketball, and (senior) Leah Freeman will be a good piece for us in the relays."
Those four athletes are sprinters along with sophomore Audrey Smith, and senior Lila Rajkoummale is the top hurdler.
"The sprints will be our strength and the core of that surrounds Leah, Riley, Jaiden and Jalyse," Jackson said. "They will be the core of our scoring."
Junior Erica Mobley and sophomores Grace Blanchong and Sam Dages are strong in distance events, and seniors Phylan Perkins and Soumoya Wright are the top throwers. Freshman Kellie Koch will compete in the pole vault.
*April 5 -- vs. Westerville Central
April 6 -- at Columbus Academy
*April 10 -- at Olentangy
April 11 -- at Bexley
*April 12 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
April 13 -- vs. St. Charles
*April 17 -- at Westerville South
*April 19 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
April 23 -- at Watkins Memorial
April 24 -- at Lancaster
April 26 -- vs. Groveport
April 27 -- at Worthington Christian
May 1 -- at Mount Vernon
May 2 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
May 3 -- vs. Pickerington North
May 7 -- vs. Big Walnut
May 8 -- vs. Newark
May 9 -- at Pickerington Central
TRACK & FIELD
April 18 -- Gahanna Relays
April 20 -- Wildcat Invitational at Westerville South
April 27 -- Milt Will Relays at Canal Winchester
May 1 -- at Westerville South
May 4 -- Mason Invitational
May 10, 12 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Olentangy Orange
*April 3 -- vs. Westerville Central
*April 5 -- at Olentangy
April 7 -- Raider Classic at Reynoldsburg
*April 10 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
*April 12 -- at Westerville South
*April 16 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
*April 19 -- at Westerville Central
*April 24 -- vs. Olentangy
*April 26 -- at Olentangy Liberty
April 30 -- at DeSales
*May 1 -- vs. Westerville South
*May 3 -- at Olentangy Orange
May 7 -- vs. Watterson
May 10 -- at New Albany
May 12 -- at Pickerington North
May 15 -- OCC Challenge at Hilliard Darby
Below are the coming schedules for the North baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and softball teams:
*April 12 -- Home vs. Olentangy in makeup from April 9
*April 13 -- At Olentangy Liberty
April 14 -- At Hilliard Davidson (DH)
*April 16 -- At Westerville South
*April 18 -- Home vs. South
*April 12 -- Home vs. New Albany
April 14 -- At Buckeye Valley
*April 17 -- At Westerville Central
*April 13 -- At Liberty
*April 16 -- Home vs. Central
*April 12 -- At Olentangy
April 14 -- Home vs. New Albany
*April 16 -- Home vs. Liberty
*April 18 -- At South