Of the 10 players who saw action when the Dublin Coffman High School girls volleyball team competed in the Division I state tournament last fall, eight have returned.
That experience, though, is far from the biggest reason the Shamrocks believe they're a better team than a year ago.
The addition of a pair of tall sophomores to a group that includes three players who won national titles for their respective club teams this summer could signal a better balanced -- and more confident -- overall unit.
"It's definitely a fun group," 12th-year coach Mary Anne Souder said. "We've got a couple new hitters. Last year we were more of a defensive team, but this year we should be more offensive, which helps. They're ready to go this year."
Coffman, which went 24-4 overall last season, opened with wins over Olentangy (25-18, 25-13, 25-16 on Aug. 22) and Pickerington North (32-30, 25-8, 25-22 on Aug. 24) before losing at Cincinnati Ursuline, a regional runner-up a year ago, 25-19, 21-25, 25-23, 16-25, 15-9 on Aug. 26.
The Shamrocks also played Olentangy Orange, a regional semifinalist last season, on Aug. 29, and travel Sept. 16 to last year's state runner-up, Cincinnati Mount Notre, which beat Coffman 18-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 15-10 in a state semifinal last fall.
Also this season are matchups Sept. 9 at Toledo St. Ursula, a regional semifinalist last year, and Oct. 7 at defending state champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights.
"We've tried to toughen up the schedule a lot," Souder said.
Coffman has won 125 consecutive league matches and 10 consecutive league and district championships.
As was the case a year ago, there are only two seniors: Dana Axner (libero) and Jennifer Schulze (setter). Axner has committed to Florida Gulf Coast and Schulze will play for Miami University.
Juniors Riley Wagoner (outside hitter), Jacy Sheldon (setter/opposite), Carman Haefke (middle hitter) and Kaitlyn Kopyar (middle hitter) are other key returnees.
Wagoner had 458 kills and made first-team all-OCC-Central Division last season along with Axner and Sheldon, while Schulze was second-team all-league and Haefke was honorable mention.
Junior defensive specialist Lexi Piekarski is taking on a larger role after being mostly a serving specialist last year, Souder said.
Sophomores Sadie Brown (outside hitter/middle hitter) and Mackenzie Curry (opposite hitter) are both about 6-foot-1 and have been added to the lineup.
Sophomores Angel Barrett (middle hitter/outside hitter) and Maddy Mayr (defensive specialist) are others looking to contribute.
for boys soccer team
Coming off a season in which it set the program record for wins in a season, won a sixth consecutive Division I district championship and won the OCC-Central Division title, the boys soccer team is hungry for even bigger things.
The Shamrocks went 17-2-2 overall and 5-0 in the league a year ago.
"Coffman's been to at least six regional semifinals or finals in a row, and to be honest, we're all over it," second-year coach Brian Stoddard said. "No one takes it for granted, but we feel like we need to make the next step. There's a number of teams in Columbus that feel exactly the same as us, so we know it'll be a challenge."
Coffman opened with wins over Cincinnati LaSalle (5-1 on Aug. 19) and Uniontown Green (5-0 on Aug. 26), both of which were Division I district runners-up a year ago.
Senior forward Luke Kiley, a Georgetown commit who scored 27 goals and was named OCC-Central Player of the Year last season, is the top returnee.
Senior defender Noah Paoletti has committed to Denison and senior midfielder Emeka Eneli will play for Cornell. Eneli is new to the program after playing at the club level the past three seasons.
Seniors Thomas Fuchik (forward/midfielder), Jake Lister (defender), Matt Stritar (defender), Nick Turner (midfielder) and Jack Wallberg (goalkeeper) and sophomore Connor DesRoches (midfielder) also are key returnees.
Newcomers include senior forward Andrew Heckaman, a move-in from Valdosta, Georgia, and junior midfielder Colin Kirkley.
Senior Luke Holland (forward) and sophomore David Urrea Partida (midfielder) are others looking to contribute.
"We're a much more technical team this year," Stoddard said. "I think we've got a chance to be one of the best teams in the state."
Girls soccer team
out for better finish
Coming off a district runner-up finish in 2015, the girls soccer team struggled with injuries and inexperience and went just 4-6-8 overall a year ago.
The Shamrocks are expecting to be better this fall under second-year coach Costa Kalorides, whose team returns key players at various spots.
Coffman opened Aug. 18 with a 3-all tie against Olentangy Liberty before beating Westerville Central 2-1 on Aug. 22.
"It's been going a lot better than last year," senior goalkeeper Izzie Vaccari said. "The forwards and midfielders are more used to playing with each other."
Other seniors are Gabby Burris (forward/midfielder), Betsy Diamond (midfielder), Julia Gualtieri (midfielder), Caleigh Littlefield (defender), Cassa McGee (defender) and Haruko Tanaka (defender).
"We definitely want to get a lot more wins than last year, and we have much better team chemistry," Tanaka said.
Tanaka and Vaccari were first-team all-league last season. Sophomore forward Simone Rivard-Roberts made second-team all-league after finishing with five goals and two assists.
Junior midfielder Zoe Wesp and sophomore midfielder Emma Barthel also were second-team all-league.
Sophomores Ashleigh Burris (midfielder/defender), Kinsey Crabtree (forward) and Kendra Siefker (defender) also are key returnees.
Junior defender McKenna Schaefer has joined the program after playing club soccer the past two seasons.
Also on the roster are junior Ellie Redman (defender), sophomore Lara Schober (midfielder) and freshmen Amanda Bailey (forward), Ally Beckman (midfielder/defender), MacKenzie Duff (mid-fielder/defender) and Addie Vaccari (forward).
Senior Abby Steiner, who was district Player of the Year as a sophomore but missed all of last season with a knee injury, is playing club soccer this fall.
Aug. 19 -- vs. Cincinnati LaSalle
Aug. 26 -- vs. Uniontown Green
Aug. 29 -- vs. Olentangy
Sept. 2 -- at Upper St. Clair (Pa.)
Sept. 5 -- vs. Pickerington North
Sept. 9 -- vs. Copley
*Sept. 12 -- at Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 14 -- at Jerome
Sept. 16 -- vs. Cincinnati St. Xavier
*Sept. 19 -- vs. Westland
Sept. 23 -- at Lexington (Ky.) Paul Laurence Dunbar
Sept. 24 -- at Lexington (Ky.) Henry Clay
*Sept. 28 -- at Marysville
*Oct. 3 -- at Central Crossing
Oct. 7 -- vs. Cleveland St. Ignatius
*Oct. 10 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Oct. 14 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
Aug. 18 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
Aug. 22 -- vs. Westerville Central
Aug. 28 -- at Olentangy
Aug. 30 -- vs. Scioto
Sept. 5 -- at Pickerington North
Sept. 9 -- vs. Licking Heights
*Sept. 12 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 14 -- at Jerome
Sept. 18 -- at Watkins Memorial
*Sept. 19 -- at Westland
*Sept. 26 -- vs. Marysville
*Oct. 3 -- vs. Central Crossing
Oct. 6 -- at Canal Winchester
*Oct. 10 -- at Upper Arlington
Oct. 14 -- vs. Westerville South
Aug. 22 -- vs. Olentangy
Aug. 24 -- vs. Pickerington North
Aug. 26 -- at Cincinnati Ursuline
Aug. 29 -- at Olentangy Orange
Aug. 31 -- at Westerville North
Sept. 2 -- vs. Liberty Township Lakota East
*Sept. 5 -- at Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 7 -- vs. Westland
Sept. 9 -- at Toledo St. Ursula
*Sept. 12 -- at Marysville
*Sept. 14 -- at Central Crossing
Sept. 16 -- at Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame
*Sept. 19 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Sept. 23 -- vs. Avon
*Sept. 26 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 28 -- at Westland
*Oct. 3 -- vs. Marysville
Oct. 4 -- at Casstown Miami East
*Oct. 5 -- vs. Central Crossing
Oct. 7 -- at Brecksville-Broadview Heights
*Oct. 10 -- at Upper Arlington
Oct. 14 -- at Mason
Below are the coming schedules for the Coffman cross country, field hockey, girls golf and girls tennis teams:
Sept. 2 -- Dual at the DeWine's in Cedarville
*Sept. 6 -- At Olentangy
Sept. 5 -- Marysville and Olentangy Liberty at Darby Creek
*Aug. 31 -- At Marysville
*Sept. 5 -- At Central Crossing
Sept. 6 -- At Columbus Academy