The Whetstone High School girls volleyball team set a new bar of success last season when it reached the City League championship match for the first time in almost two decades.
Possibly as important is what the Braves accomplished from a mental standpoint.
After ending Centennial's 76-match City-North Division winning streak and then earning a regular-season sweep of the Stars, the Braves also beat Centennial in the first round of the Division I district tournament before falling in the second round.
"Centennial has been dominating, but the group that were seniors last year, that was their goal, to get to the championship (match) before they graduated and they did it their senior year, so that was fulfilling," 40th-year coach Errole Rembert said. "They'd been beaten by Centennial so many times, but we beat them all three times we played them. They were a group that pretty much came in together and they'd been to the City championship (match) at the j.v. level from the time they were freshmen on up, so they had no real fear of Centennial."
Whetstone, which lost to Eastmoor Academy 20-25, 27-25, 25-22, 25-22 in the City title match, was 3-3 overall and 3-0 in the City-North after beating Linden-McKinley 25-1, 25-3, 25-16 on Aug. 30.
The only returnees from the team that finished 18-4 overall last fall are senior outside hitter Ellie Henkaline and junior setter Dahlia Kleen.
Seniors Avy Muon (outside hitter), Silanna Hill (outside hitter) and Noa Leslie (outside hitter) and sophomores Meghan Harrison (setter/right-side hitter), Macy Staggs (middle hitter), Sadie Hannah (defensive specialist) and Caitlyn McDaniel (defensive specialist) also are key players.
Others in the program are juniors Alea Millington-Fuqua (middle hitter) and Anna-Mary Absalom (utility) and freshmen Alivia Brello (defensive specialist) and Ellen Edwards (outside hitter/right-side hitter).
"We did have a pretty good team with eight seniors last year, but they're all gone," Rembert said. "We've only got two returning players, so this year we're pretty young. We've got some sophomores coming up, so that's a pretty strong class. We have to learn how to compete."
Season underway for runners
The boys and girls cross country teams are preparing to compete Saturday, Sept. 8, in the McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial.
The girls team is coming off a season in which it snapped Centennial's eight-year hold on the City championship, as the Braves scored 61 points in the league meet to edge the Stars (64).
Senior Harper Daniel, junior Megan Sharp and sophomore Micah Stromsoe-DeLorenzo were among the team's top five runners last season and have returned.
Senior Lana Tliemat and sophomore Olivia Cobbs are others competing.
On Aug. 25, Sharp and senior Elizabeth Cobbs competed in the Baron Blast at Buckeye Valley, but the Braves didn't post a team score.
"We still want to win City," 26th-year coach Joe Monda said. "I've got a couple girls from track that I just talked to that just came out that even with the girls I have back can help us, but we've got a lot of work to do."
The boys team also did not post a team score at the Baron Blast, in which sophomore Matt Conroy finished 28th (18 minutes, 47.78 seconds) and seniors Emil Adams and Colin Ramsby also competed.
Conroy placed sixth (18:18.1) at last year's City meet to earn first-team all-league honors.
Sophomore Thaine Nederveld is another returnee from the team that was league runner-up last season.
Also competing is freshman Reed Wilson.
"With the boys, we're looking for a fifth runner," Monda said. "Matt ran (18:47.78 at Buckeye Valley) and he's only a sophomore. Thaine is coming back from a broken arm. If our new kid, Reed Wilson, can run faster we might be able to challenge for the City because the four guys we have back are decent."
Football team set to battle Rams
The football team could face its toughest opponent to date when it plays host to Whitehall on Friday, Sept. 7, before beginning the City-North schedule.
The Braves' final non-league game is Oct. 19 when they play at the Columbus Crusaders club team.
Whetstone opened Aug. 24 with a 54-6 loss to Watkins Memorial and played host to Briggs on Aug. 31.
Whitehall opened Aug. 24 with a 19-6 loss to visiting Westerville Central and played Northland on Aug. 31.
The Rams, who beat Whetstone 38-10 last season en route to qualifying for the Division II, Region 7 playoffs, feature senior quarterback Raymell Byrd and senior running backs Wayne Blackshear and Rasheed Muhammad on offense and senior linebacker Keon Freeman on defense.
In last year's matchup, Byrd finished with 127 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries and Muhammad rushed for 121 yards and one score on 11 carries as Whitehall racked up 445 yards of offense.
Against Central, Byrd returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.
Against Watkins Memorial, Whetstone was limited to 47 yards of offense and got a 26-yard touchdown by Dorian Jordan when he picked up a loose ball after a blocked field goal.
Aug. 25 -- Baron Blast at Buckeye Valley
Sept. 8 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 15 -- Central Ohio Invitational at Three Creeks Metro Park
Sept. 19 -- Whetstone Invitational
Sept. 26 -- Rick Mettle Invitational at Walnut Ridge
Sept. 29 -- Erin Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Aug. 18 -- at Grandview with Grove City Christian
*Aug. 20 -- at Mifflin
Aug. 25 -- at Groveport
*Aug. 28 -- vs. East
*Aug. 30 -- vs. Linden-McKinley
*Sept. 4 -- at International
*Sept. 6 -- vs. Beechcroft
Sept. 8 -- at Emmanuel Christian with Toledo Rogers
*Sept. 11 -- at Centennial
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Northland
*Sept. 18 -- vs. Mifflin
Sept. 19 -- vs. Whitehall
*Sept. 20 -- vs. East
*Sept. 25 -- at Linden
*Sept. 27 -- vs. International
*Oct. 2 -- at Beechroft
*Oct. 4 -- vs. Centennial
*Oct. 9 -- at Northland
Oct. 10 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls tennis teams:
*Sept. 6 -- Centennial and Walnut Ridge at Raymond Memorial
*Sept. 11 -- League match at TBA
Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Lancaster
*Sept. 11 -- At Linden-McKinley
Sept. 12 -- At Johnstown
Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Hartley
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Eastmoor Academy