Laney Warthen has had some good examples to follow playing setter for the Newark Catholic High School girls volleyball team.

Laney Warthen has had some good examples to follow playing setter for the Newark Catholic High School girls volleyball team.

One of them was her sister, Sadie, who was a junior on the team that won a state title in 2004. Others included another set of sisters, Sarah and Leigh Ann Matesich, both of whom remain involved in the sport. Lee Ann is coach at Mount Union and Sarah is an assistant at Wittenberg.

"I grew up watching all of them," Warthen said after totaling 26 assists with two service aces during a 25-16, 26-24, 25-10 victory last Tuesday at Lakewood in a MSL-Ohio Division match. "I always went to the games. I loved watching them play."

Warthen, a third-year starter, has come a long way since sharing setting duties with Amy Cox in a 6-2 formation as a sophomore in 2006. She's been the lone setter since the Green Wave moved to a 6-1 offense last year.

"She's much more decisive now," coach Jeri Helfer said. "She runs the whole show. She's thinking like me I guess because when I want a certain play she's already got it called it out there. It's uncanny."

Helfer will need Warthen, who made the all-tournament team Sept. 20 at the Golden Spike Tournament in Toledo, and the rest of her players to be at the top of games with pivotal MSL-Ohio matches looming Tuesday at Heath and Thursday at home against Bexley. Those two opponents shared last year's title, and the Bulldogs eventually advanced to a Division III regional semifinal and the Lions to a Division II regional final.

The Green Wave also plays Monday at Licking Valley.

Ranked fourth in last week's Division IV state poll, Newark Catholic is 14-1 overall and atop the MSL-Ohio at 8-0. The league mark includes a 25-18, 25-18, 25-15 win over Heath on Sept. 4 and a 25-14, 25-20, 25-14 victory over Bexley on Sept. 9.

Heath is 13-2 overall and 8-1 in the MSL-Ohio and had won six in a row after defeating Granville 25-21, 25-22, 25-23 last Thursday as setter Megan White had 28 assists, five kills and five blocks.

"It's a big week for us," Helfer said. "Heath, boy I'll tell you what, they're playing very well with such a young team. They'll be incredible by the end of the year. They'll be a force by then."

Bexley is 6-3 in the MSL and was upset by Licking Valley last Tuesday 25-19, 25-16, 25-20. The Lions played better than expected in the first-round loss against Newark Catholic and have a history of making second-half improvements, defeating Heath, which was 21-0 at the time, in the regular-season finale last season, for example.

"The last time we played (the Green Wave) we showed them a lot of good things," Bexley coach Amber Bolinger said. "I talked with their coaches afterward and they all said they were amazed that we were as strong as we were. We caught them off guard and I think we will play them even tougher the next time."

Angela McNulty, who also made the all-tournament team in Toledo as the Green Wave finished as runner-up to Milan Edison, had 12 kills in last Thursday's 25-9, 25-12, 25-14 win over Whitehall. Newark Catholic also defeated Big Walnut 25-27, 25-20, 25-9, 24-26, 15-9 last Wednesday in a matchup of state-ranked opponents. The Eagles are sixth in the Division II poll.