It will be a matchup of contrasting strengths when the Westerville North High School girls volleyball team faces Thomas Worthington in a Division I district semifinal at 7:30 p.m. today at Licking Heights.

It will be a matchup of contrasting strengths when the Westerville North High School girls volleyball team faces Thomas Worthington in a Division I district semifinal at 7:30 p.m. today at Licking Heights.

The fifth-seeded Cardinals, who won a district title last year and are 19-5 overall, have two of the area's top outside hitters in seniors Monica Lanno and Abby Swihart.

The Warriors are the district's seventh seed and have two of the area's most imposing middle hitters in seniors Natalie Longardner and Caitlin Kusan.

It's the second time in three seasons in a district semifinal for North, which has won six in a row and also is 19-5.

"We match up very well against (Thomas)," coach Aaron Hastings said. "Our middle hitting is our strong suit. They have two outside attackers that are very good, so if we can block them, we'll be in good shape."

North had little trouble in beating Columbus West (25-11, 25-10, 25-11 on Oct. 20) and Westland (25-10, 25-13, 25-18 last Saturday) during the first two rounds of the district tournament.

Still, Hastings believes his team must be sharper if it's to make it to a district final for the first time since winning a district title in 2003.

The winner will face second-seeded Pickerington North or Central Crossing in a district final Saturday. The Warriors didn't play the Panthers this season but beat the Comets 25-18, 25-18, 25-11 on Sept. 25.

"We played pretty well (in our first two tournament wins)," Hastings said. "We haven't seen any teams yet that have threatened us, but we played pretty consistently. We're looking at cutting down on our errors in serving and serve-receive. Right now, we need to be more disciplined.

"I think we've really come together a lot better this season, and they all get along for the most part. They're able to focus on what we need to work on. We're hitting the ball very well right now and I think our defense is going to continue to be strong."

Central also won its first two tournament matches, including beating Gahanna 25-21, 25-20, 25-12 in the second round last Saturday. That victory avenged the Warhawks' loss to the Lions in a district semifinal last season.

Central, the 12th seed, played 10th-seeded Newark in a district semifinal last Tuesday. If the Warhawks won that match, they likely will face top-seeded Dublin Coffman in a district final Saturday at Licking Heights.

"We won in three games over Gahanna, which ended our season last year," coach Shaun Servick said. "Our girls realized that they needed to do it for the girls on last year's team. It was pretty satisfying to get that win. Gahanna did a good job of blocking and taking away our offensive ability. The biggest strength was our serve and our serve-receive."

Servick credited the play of Adrienne Agee, Trisha Clark and Megan Mills as being among those who helped lead his team to its third consecutive district semifinal.

The Warhawks last made it to a district final in 2005 when they lost to Westerville South 27-25, 25-17, 25-13.

"We didn't get a ton of blocks, but we took away (Gahanna's) hitting avenues," Servick said. "It's exciting to make it to a district semifinal for the third consecutive season, especially after we lost the last two times we were there in five games."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Westerville Central, North and South girls volleyball teams:

CENTRAL

*Oct. 12 - Lost to Olentangy Liberty 25-23, 25-23, 25-16

*Oct. 14 - Defeated Dublin Jerome 25-17, 25-12, 25-17

Oct. 20 - Def. Whetstone 25-9, 25-9, 25-6 in first round of Division I tournament at Columbus East

Last Saturday - Def. Gahanna 25-21, 25-20, 25-12 in second round of tournament at Hamilton Township

Last Tuesday - Played Newark in district semifinal. Winner plays Saturday (11 a.m.) at Licking Heights vs. top-seeded Dublin Coffman or Chillicothe in district final. Winner plays at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 at Hilliard Davidson vs. Olentangy Liberty, Upper Arlington, Watterson or Grove City in regional semifinal. Regional final is Nov. 6 (2 p.m.) at Davidson.

Of note: The Warhawks were 16-8 overall before last Tuesday and finished second at 12-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division behind Liberty (13-1) and ahead of Westerville North (11-3), Olentangy (7-7), Dublin Scioto (5-9), Jerome (3-11), Marysville (3-11) and Westerville South (2-12).

NORTH

*Oct. 12 - Def. Marysville 25-9, 25-11, 25-18

*Oct. 14 - Def. Olentangy 26-24, 25-20, 20-25, 30-28

Oct. 20 - Def. Columbus West 25-11, 25-10, 25-11 in first round of Division I tournament at Big Walnut

Last Saturday - Def. Westland 25-10, 25-13, 25-18 at Big Walnut

Today - Fifth-seeded Thomas Worthington at Licking Heights (7:30 p.m.). Winner plays at 3 p.m. Saturday at Licking Heights vs. second-seeded Pickerington North or Central Crossing in district final. North is the seventh seed. Winner plays Nov. 4 (6 p.m.) at Davidson vs. Centerville or Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in regional semifinal.

Of note: The Warriors are 19-5 overall and finished third at 11-3 in the OCC-Cardinal.

SOUTH

*Oct. 12 - Lost to Olentangy 25-19, 25-19, 25-17

*Oct. 14 - Lost to Liberty 25-15, 25-16, 25-5

Oct. 23 - Lost to Pickerington North 25-7, 25-12, 25-20 in second round of Division I tournament

Of note: The Wildcats finished 3-20 overall and 2-12 in the OCC-Cardinal.

*OCC-Cardinal match