In numerous ways, the Westerville North High School girls volleyball team has a new look this season.

In numerous ways, the Westerville North High School girls volleyball team has a new look this season.

Aaron Hastings, who led the program from 2008-10 as well as the past three seasons, stepped down in the offseason to become an assistant coach at West Virginia University.

In addition, the Warriors lost eight players from last season.

New coach Ashley Evans has heard some of the stories about what North accomplished under Hastings -- district runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2010, and back-to-back winning seasons the past two years -- but is keeping things in perspective.

Evans is a New Philadelphia native who coached girls volleyball at a high school in Denver the last three seasons. She got a teaching job at North early in the summer and took over the program in late July.

North opens Thursday, Aug. 27, with an OCC-Cardinal Division match at Hilliard Darby.

"Last year this team was ranked 14th (in the final state poll)," Evans said. "I only have one (senior) returnee. Being young with only having one (senior) returning player, we want to be competitive and build as a team."

The top returnees from last year's team, which finished 16-6 overall and reached a Division I district semifinal, are senior Gabby Wilson (setter), junior Sophie Conway (defensive specialist/libero) and sophomore Maddie Szawranskyj (outside hitter).

North, which finished third (9-5) in the OCC-Cardinal behind champion Westerville Central (14-0), has six other juniors.

Junior Sam Wood also is at setter, with juniors Lauryn Collett and Marley Mitchell at middle hitter, junior Rachael Weigand at right-side hitter and juniors Becca Evans and Kaitlyn Wetta as defensive specialists.

Also looking to contribute are sophomores Haley Conley (right-side hitter/outside hitter) and Claire Dawson (outside hitter/right-side hitter).

The Warriors lost seven players to graduation, including Rebecca Skidmore and Halli Swiger, who were first-team all-league and second-team all-league, respectively. Junior Julia Backiewicz is not back with the team.

Numbers, hopes up for Wildcats

After going 2-18 overall and tying for seventh (1-13) in the OCC-Cardinal, South has 14 new players in its program.

Among the four seniors are outside hitter Amanda Blais, who was honorable mention all-league, and setter Shelby Pappas.

That combination has second-year coach Jessica Timmons believing good things are in store for this season.

The Wildcats opened Aug. 22 by beating Columbus School for Girls 26-24, 25-23 and losing to Teays Valley 16-25, 25-10, 25-23.

"We had the girls write down their goals for the team, and everybody wants to win more," Timmons said. "We want the kids to feel like they have a say and we want them to have fun. The one thing I said was that we're here to help the kids be the best examples of themselves. If we do that, the wins will take care of themselves.

"We're young, but they're light years ahead of where we were last year at this point."

The other seniors are right-side hitter Meredith Evans and middle hitter Noel Michel.

Sophomore McKenna Saunders (defensive specialist/lib-ero) is another key returnee.

Juniors Rachael Broyles (setter), Savanna Fearn (right-side hitter) and Lyrin McKibben (right-side hitter) and sophomores Darby Holman (outside hitter), Megan McConnell (outside hitter) and Danielle Miller (outside hitter) are others looking to contribute.

Warhawks aiming for more titles

With two returning players who were honored at the state level and coming off at least a share of four consecutive league titles, expectations might be higher at Central than ever before.

Senior Katie Myers, a 6-foot-1 opposite hitter who made third-team all-state in Division I, and classmate Bailey Line, a set-ter/outside hitter who was honorable mention all-state, have committed to Maryland and Ohio Dominican, respectively.

Myers also was OCC-Cardinal Player of the Year last season as Central finished 22-3 overall.

In addition, junior Aly Graham is a 5-10 outside hitter who started at Lima Senior last season.

The Warhawks opened Aug. 25 at Dublin Coffman, which lost to DeSales in a regional final last season.

DeSales beat Central 19-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-19 in a district final, marking the second year in a row the Warhawks lost at that level. Central won a district title in 2012.

"Last year was the first time in my history as a coach (at Central) that all three of our levels won (an OCC title)," eighth-year coach Shaun Servick said. "We graduated some good program kids, but we lettered 17 kids and only six of them graduated. ... Our junior class has quite a few that are pretty strong."

The other seniors are Caroline Ey (libero) and Acacia Freeman (outside hitter/libero), and other key juniors are Maran Jados (middle hitter), Savannah Line (defensive special-ist/libero), Claire Owens (outside hitter), Abigail Steele (setter) and Jo Whitman (middle hitter).

Also looking to contribute are junior Chloe Ey (defensive specialist) and freshman Avrey Schumaker (utility).

The biggest losses were Jenna Coppins, who was second-team all-league, and Alex Kuhns, who was honorable mention all-league.