Among the activities the Delaware Hayes girls volleyball program participated in during the offseason were a team camp at Wittenberg University and a tournament known as the Friendship Cup in Mason.
Coach Raynard Martin hopes his team will benefit from those type of events this fall, particularly when times are tough.
The Pacers went 16-9 in Martin's first season last fall after going 16-8 in 2017, but there was an adjustment period a year ago.
"The girls have been working hard all summer and we seem to continue to make strides every year in becoming a better program," Martin said. "So much team cohesion, skill development and bonding happened this summer.
"Admittedly, last year was not the easiest year of transition for our program in my first year as head coach. Naturally, anytime there is a change, it's sometimes difficult. The coaching staff and players seem to feel more relaxed and comfortable this year and we seem to be more on the same page."
The Pacers were 4-4 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before facing Hilliard Bradley on Aug. 29.
On Aug. 24 in the Cardington Invitational, Delaware opened with a 22-25, 25-22, 25-22 loss to Caledonia River Valley but rebounded to beat Bloom-Carroll 25-9, 25-18 and Lucas 25-16, 25-20 to place fifth.
The Pacers opened league play Aug. 20 with a 19-25, 25-15, 25-22, 18-25, 15-10 loss to Hilliard Darby on Aug. 20 and fell to Dublin Scioto 25-21, 25-23, 25-17 on Aug. 22 before beating Thomas Worthington 25-19, 25-15, 25-19 on Aug. 27.
Among the top returnees are seniors Hadlee Bruns (middle hitter), Becca Rocassin (6-foot; setter/right-side hitter) and Mia Thompson (libero) and junior Anna Johnson (setter/right-side hitter).
Rocassin was named second-team all-league and Thompson was honorable mention all-league last season as Delaware went 8-6 in league play.
Other seniors are Sydney Johns (defensive specialist) and Lilly Lagando (outside hitter/right-side hitter).
Junior Madelyn Kaasa (right-side hitter/outside hitter) and sophomores Bailey Christiansen (middle hitter) and Natalie Davis (outside hitter) also are key players.
Others looking to contribute include junior Ally Gray (defensive specialist) and sophomores Chloe Jeffers (setter) and Audrey Lenocker (middle hitter).
Football team out to again beat Monarchs
Over the past five seasons, the football team has defeated Marysville three times, including 17-16 in overtime last fall.
Senior running back Jahi Broussard-Nash missed four games last season with injury but rushed for a 4-yard touchdown that gave the Pacers a 17-10 lead in overtime. Marysville scored on the ensuing possession but failed on a two-point conversion attempt.
The Pacers will face the Monarchs on Friday, Sept. 6. Because of construction at Marysville, the game will be played at Bradley.
"They're building a whole new complex and I wanted to go there and play because I heard it's going to be phenomenal," coach Scott Wetzel said. "When all is said and done, it's supposed to be beautiful. Last year, we went into overtime with them. Our kids had a great game with them and it was a fun game to watch. That'll be one they'll have marked on their calendar."
Delaware opened Aug. 30 with a 35-0 win over Buckeye Valley, its ninth consecutive victory over the Barons.
While Wetzel is in his second season as Pacers coach and has 24 seniors to work with following a 6-4 finish a year ago, the Monarchs went 5-5 last season with two overtime losses and have seen their overall participation numbers improve from 62 to 73 under third-year coach Brent Johnson.
Senior running backs Chase Kilgore and Jayden Simmons are expected to lead Marysville's ground game after having 632 and 242 yards rushing, respectively, last season.
"We were hired in late May (2018), so this was the first time we were able to spend the whole offseason together as a coaching staff," Wetzel said. "We do our camps during the summer, go into two-a-days and we're ready. Week 1 you always have kind of guarded optimism as far as all the positions, but we hope as a unit that we can perform at a high level."
Runners looking to be more competitive
With just one senior among its top boys runners and young competitors also leading the girls team, 15th-year cross country coach Jim Bibler continued to tweak his program's approach this past offseason in hopes of speeding up the teams' growth.
"We have set some new standards to be part of a varsity training group," Bibler said. "We need to be more competitive in our league, so we have really challenged the boys team. I'm really happy with their response so far and am looking forward to seeing their improvement this season.
"The girls have a good, solid group of seven to eight (runners) that are going to be able to push each other in races. We have some freshmen that are excited to help out, and just like the boys, we want to be healthy in October for the big races and be competitive in our league meet."
Senior Brian Frisch is expected to be the boys team's No. 1 runner this fall.
Sophomore Blake Frisch, who also competes for the boys soccer team, is expected to be another key runner for Delaware, which opened Aug. 31 with the Granville Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion.
Last season, junior Padraig Mumper was the Pacers' No. 1 runner, placing 94th (18 minutes, 48.1 seconds) at the Division I, district 3 meet as Delaware finished 20th of 21 teams.
Sophomores Eric Puthoff, Eric Stewart, Sebastian Stewart, Juan Tello and Gary Weckerly also are key returnees, while junior Isaak Scheeler and freshman Noah Hatton are others who should contribute.
The top returnee for the girls is sophomore Miranda Gemberling, who finished 56th (21:36.2) at the district 2 meet last season as the Pacers finished 13th of 16 teams.
Sophomore Kailyn Smith also is a key returnee.
Others looking to contribute include juniors Lauren English and Brynn McGrail and freshmen Beth Atanosian, Molly Wells and Julia Young.
Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 7 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 6 -- Marion Harding Invitational at Marion Country Club
Sept. 5 -- Marion Elgin at Windy Acres
*Sept. 3 -- At Dublin Scioto
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Northland
Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Mansfield Madison
*Sept. 3 -- Home vs. Scioto
Sept. 5 -- At Reynoldsburg
*Sept. 3 -- At Dublin Jerome
Sept. 4 -- Home vs. Hartley
*Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
Sept. 6 -- At Big Walnut
*Sept. 3 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 5 -- At Jerome