High school boys volleyball is growing in the City League.
Last spring, Briggs and Eastmoor Academy joined Northland and Whetstone as City schools with boys volleyball, and Beechcroft has added a program this season.
South also considered having a team this spring but ultimately elected not to.
Eastmoor lost two of its first three matches to start this season. The Warriors opened March 29 with a 25-12, 25-16, 25-14 victory over Whetstone before losing to Licking Heights 19-25, 23-25, 27-25, 25-17, 15-12 on April 3 and Briggs 25-22, 25-15, 25-18 on April 10.
After the five City programs complete their regular-season schedules, a City tournament will be held on a date to be determined.
"I'm looking forward to that (tournament)," said Eastmoor coach Sequoia Wright, whose team won four matches last season. "It gives the boys something to look forward to in what is an OCC-dominated sport. We have a very dominant boys track team and a decent baseball team so it's hard to get boys out, but even though we're only eight (players)-strong, we believe we're a very good eight-strong."
Returning for the Warriors are senior Michael McCoy (outside hitter) and juniors Jeron Turner (middle hitter) and Sema'j Wright (defensive specialist).
Senior Timothy Smith (middle hitter), juniors Kenny Lawrence (setter) and Ravon Wheeler (right-side hitter), sophomore Tyler Schuler (outside hitter) and freshman Kingston Hunt (defensive specialist) round out Eastmoor's roster.
On April 9, Beechcroft opened with a 25-13, 25-6, 25-9 loss to Northland.
Mandy Cox, who has coached softball and girls volleyball at Beechcroft and is the wife of former Beechcroft football standout and current CFL player Chip Cox, is the Cougars' coach.
"I've been trying to (have a boys volleyball team) for five years and we were able to do it this year," Cox said. "I've never had this much fun. They work hard and they're learning. None of them have ever played before, but I have so many guys that have stepped up."
In the match against Northland, seniors Favour Adeagbo (right-side hitter), Assante Childs (outside hitter), Tyshon Jennings (defensive specialist), Jaylon Moye (right-side hitter), Shemar Samuel (right-side hitter), Ken'Yon Tolbert (setter/outside hitter), Suliman Conteh (outside hitter/setter) and Deonteze Newsom (middle hitter) and freshman Michael Oduour (middle hitter) saw action.
The Cougars are playing each of the four other City teams twice and will face Licking Heights on April 30 at home and May 7 on the road.
Returning for her third season as Northland's coach is Tiffany Rettig, who has helped the program grow from eight players last season to 14.
"A lot of our kids have been (English-as-second-language) kids," Rettig said. "Northland is about 50 percent ESL and special education combined. I have three kids who are from Burma. They have a lot of volleyball IQ. We (have a) shorter team, but they can jump."
Seniors on Northland's team are Sajan Chhetri (outside hitter), Dre Davis (middle hitter) and Dipendra Dhakal (outside hitter/setter).
Also on the roster are juniors Larry Logan (right-side hitter) and Dal Sum (middle hitter), sophomores Husam Ahmed (defensive specialist), Rasi Bailey (right-side hitter), Naseer Broadnax (utility), Heiser Diaz (right-side hitter), Nischal Gurang (defensive specialist), Dal Kapp (setter), Hassan Sesay (right-side hitter) and freshmen Caleb Stallings (middle hitter) and Suan Tung (defensive specialist).
Northland won three of its first seven matches this season.
"I have two freshmen, two sophomores and one junior who are all new," said Rettig, a Bucyrus native who attended Columbus State and Otterbein after moving to central Ohio in 2003. "Our captain is Dal Sum, and he's a for-real volleyball player. There are only five City League teams, so a lot of our schedule is made up of suburban schools. I can't tell you how many people come up to me and say he's so fun to watch."
Bruins baseball team out to extend run
There's no denying the consistency the Briggs baseball team has achieved the past decade.
The Bruins haven't won a City title since 2008, but they have reached the City championship game each of the past nine seasons.
After falling to Whetstone 2-0 in last year's league final, Briggs is hoping it has the depth and experience to contend for the City title.
The Bruins, who finished 14-7 overall last season, were 4-3 overall and 4-0 in the City-South Division before playing West on April 16. They routed South 22-2 on April 11 and Eastmoor 20-1 on April 13 in league games but lost to Pickerington North 11-1 on April 12.
"We should theoretically win the (City-South)," said fourth-year coach Joe Krabill, who previously coached Brookhaven for five seasons. "That's always our goal, and then how we match up in our non-conference is how we measure ourselves. We're going to see how that works out."
Briggs opened March 26 with an 11-0 league win over Marion-Franklin before losing to Northland 10-2 on April 2 and Hartley 15-0 on April 5. The Bruins bounced back to beat Africentric 20-0 in a league contest April 9.
Senior Seth Underwood is among the team's top pitchers along with juniors Jayden Osborne and Troy Farley and seniors Terrance Yates and Nate Hall.
Hall, who did not play last season, plays left field when not on the mound while Yates and Farley split time at catcher. Osborne also plays in the outfield, while Underwood can play several positions, according to Krabill.
Others in the program include seniors Andres Aponte (SS), Daniel Imler (OF) and Jake Lyon (DH/3B), juniors Jordan Lumbard (1B), Jordan Brobst (OF), Kenneth Lozano (OF) and Elias Reyes (OF) and sophomores Zach Heston (3B) and Caleb Shope (3B/P).
Other non-league opponents on Briggs' schedule include Westland (April 17), London (Thursday, April 19), Dublin Jerome (Saturday, April 21, doubleheader), Grandview (Tuesday, April 24) and Groveport (April 28 doubleheader).
"Our non-conference schedule is probably on paper (more difficult), but you don't get any better by playing down," Krabill said.
Vikings tennis team looks to stay active
The Northland boys tennis team is preparing for the City League coaches tournament, which will be held Monday, April 23, at Africentric and South and will conclude Wednesday, April 25, at a site to be announced.
The Vikings opened March 26 with a 5-0 win over Linden-McKinley but lost to Whetstone 5-0 on April 11 and fell to Beechcroft 5-0 on April 13. They played Centennial on April 18.
Northland also must reschedule a match against Mifflin that was postponed March 28 because of bad weather.
The Vikings will be competing in the Division II postseason, which begins with the sectional May 10 at Columbus Academy or Columbus School for Girls.
Junior Josh Moore and seniors Lamonte Powell and D.J. Combs have been competing in singles, with seniors Joel Cooper and Jejuan Weatherspoon at first doubles and freshmen Jason Brown and Shemar Watson at second doubles.
Also on the team is junior N'Keeley Elmore.
Sean Taylor, who also is the boys basketball coach, is in his fourth season heading the boys tennis program.
"(We) just (want them) to continue to improve, have fun and try to compete," Taylor said.