Test time is fast approaching for the Dublin Coffman High School girls volleyball team, and Dana Axner couldn't be more eager for it.
A varsity regular since her sophomore season and one of just two seniors in the program along with setter Jennifer Schulze, Axner believes the additions the Shamrocks made to their schedule this season will help them in their quest to win the Division I state championship.
Coffman was state runner-up in 2015 and a state semifinalist last season.
"We have (faced) such better competition this season," Axner said.
"This year I feel like it's different. When we get there, we'll really know what to do. We knew we needed to get more prepared.
"I can't wait until November. We'll see what we're made of."
The defensive play of Axner, who is in her second season as the starting libero, is among the reasons the Shamrocks are feeling optimistic as they approach the postseason.
Coffman wrapped up the OCC-Central Division title with a 25-7, 25-7, 25-12 win over Central Crossing on Oct. 5.
The Shamrocks entered their league finale Oct. 10 against Upper Arlington on a 134-match winning streak in league play and have won 11 consecutive league titles.
Coffman, which is the top seed in the district tournament, had won eight matches in a row and was 18-2 overall and 9-0 in the league before playing UA. On Oct. 7, the Shamrocks won 28-26, 26-24, 25-14 at Brecksville-Broadview Heights, which won last year's state championship.
Coffman closes the regular season Saturday, Oct. 14, at home against Mason, which was 17-2 before playing Cincinnati McAuley on Oct. 10.
The Shamrocks' only losses through 20 matches were to Cincinnati Ursuline Academy (25-19, 21-25, 25-23, 16-25, 15-9 on Aug. 26) and Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame Academy (25-21, 21-25, 25-17, 28-26 on Sept. 16).
Mount Notre Dame was state runner-up and Ursuline Academy was a regional runner-up last season.
"We (only) had two seniors last year, but honestly, it's totally different, but in a good way," Axner said.
"We have good team chemistry and we know how we work on the court and off the court."
Through 20 matches, the 5-foot-7 Axner led the Shamrocks in digs with 342 and was second in serves received (258) and serving aces (30).
Her background suggests she also might have developed into a strong setter had she not made a position switch when she entered high school. She's third on the team in assists with 71.
"I used to be a setter until high school and (coach Mary Anne Souder) viewed me as a defensive player when I came in as a freshman," Axner said. "I was like, 'Why not? I'll be able to play varsity that way.' So I did it and really liked it, and apparently I was good at it."
According to Souder, that last phrase Axner used to describe herself would be an understatement.
"(Axner's) like our court leader," Souder said. "I think she's the best libero in the state, I really do. It's kind of hands-down for me. When we go to Cincinnati and Toledo, they all say they're pretty impressed with her. She's so fast. Her defensive quickness is crazy good. She's worked a lot on her serve-receive and that's made her a better libero. Most people look at how well they serve-receive passes to gauge how good of a libero you are, but she's got the other side, which is all the defensive stuff. Rarely does anything drop near her."
Axner is headed to Florida Gulf Coast next year. She also considered Youngstown State, Buffalo and Elon as well as walk-on opportunities at Pittsburgh and Notre Dame before choosing Florida Gulf Coast.
"I always wanted to play in the south because I like the weather," Axner said.
Soccer teams ready for big finishes
The boys and girls soccer teams entered the week battling for league championships.
Heading into its OCC-Central finale Oct. 10 against UA, the boys squad was 12-0-2 overall and 3-0-1 in the league while the Golden Bears were 2-1-1 and Marysville was 2-0-2.
The Monarchs played Hilliard Davidson on Oct. 10.
According to coach Brian Stoddard, Luke Kiley, Emeka Eneli and Andrew Heckaman had combined for 27 goals and 21 assists through 13 games.
Coffman, which is seeded second for the Division I district tournament, beat Cleveland St. Ignatius 5-2 on Oct. 7 and closes the regular season Saturday, Oct. 14, at home against Olentangy Liberty, which is rank first in the state.
The Shamrocks are ranked third and St. Ignatius is ninth.
"The team has come back with a strong focus and is ready to put in top performances against the best the state has to offer," Stoddard said.
The girls team also is seeded second for the Division I district tournament.
The Shamrocks were 10-1-3 overall and 3-0-1 in the league before playing UA on Oct. 10. Davidson was second in the league at 3-1 before playing Marysville on Oct. 10.
Through 14 games, Simone Rivard-Roberts had seven goals and four assists, Emma Barthel had five goals and six assists and Gabby Burris and Addie Vaccari both had four goals and two assists.
"The girls have been playing well and have had a solid couple of weeks," coach Costa Kalorides said.
Boys golfers earn district berth
The boys golf team competed in the Division I district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley.
The top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the state tournament Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
In a 12-team sectional Oct. 3 at Clover Valley, the Shamrocks shot a 328 to place fourth and edge Scioto (329) for the final district-qualifying berth as St. Charles won the title with a 300.
Matt Sopko and Andrew Simpson both tied for 15th with an 81. Also competing for Coffman were Blake Whitis (83), Alex Werth (83) and Spencer Eiselt (88).
Girls golfers advance to district tourney
The girls golf team competed in the nine-team Division I district tournament Oct. 10 at Cooks Creek.
The top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the state tournament Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
In a 12-team sectional Oct. 3 at Mentel Memorial, the Shamrocks took third with a 346 behind Jerome (314) and Gahanna (339) as the top four moved on.
Maria Howard led the Shamrocks at the sectional, carding an 80 to place sixth. Also competing for Coffman were Jooho Oh (86), Annika Manjunath (89), Olivia Brickey (91) and Jenna Lynn (99).
Tennis players fall short at sectional
Two singles players and both doubles pairings for the girls tennis team lost quarterfinal matches in a Division I sectional Oct. 6 at Hilliard Bradley to fall one win shy of advancing.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles at sectional advanced to district Thursday, Oct. 12, at Bradley and Saturday, Oct. 14, at UA.
In singles, Hannah Qin lost to Scioto's Nicole Santoso 6-2, 6-1 and Lena Caruso lost to Jerome's Jiaqi Liu 6-0, 6-0 in quarterfinals, while Claire Feit lost to Scioto's Peyton Shaffer 6-3, 6-0 in a first-round match.
In doubles quarterfinals, Meredith Ainsworth and Alex Kapustin lost to Davidson's Grace Wilson and Josie Paazig 6-0, 6-2 and Darien Blackwell and Anya Shah lost to Jerome's Vicki Chang and Reagan Resor 6-0, 6-0.
Below are the coming schedules for the Coffman cross country, field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 14 -- OCC-Central meet at Hilliard Darby
Oct. 14 -- Home vs. Kettering Fairmont
Oct. 17 -- At second-seeded Columbus Academy in second round of district tournament. Winner plays seventh-seeded Upper Arlington or ninth-seeded Olentangy Orange in district semifinal Oct. 24. The Shamrocks are seeded 15th.
Oct. 14 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
Oct. 21 -- Home vs. 39th-seeded Lancaster or 41st-seeded Licking Heights in second round of Division I district tournament. The Shamrocks are seeded second.
Oct. 14 -- Home vs. Westerville South
Oct. 19 -- Home vs. 41st-seeded Briggs in second round of Division I district tournament. The Shamrocks are seeded second.
Oct. 14 -- At Mason
Oct. 18 -- Home vs. 42nd-seeded Marion Harding or 50th-seeded Franklin Heights in second round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 25th-seeded Scioto, 28th-seeded Logan or 32nd-seeded Thomas Worthington in district semifinal Oct. 25 at Whitehall. The Shamrocks are the top seed.