With three freshmen in his team's regular lineup, Reynoldsburg girls tennis coach Les Somogyi has stressed to his four seniors the importance of their role this season.
The seniors, who include Hope Chaffin and Abi Swift, have served as a bridge to the future, which Somogyi believes will be beneficial for years to come.
"(The seniors are) awesome," said Somogyi, who is in his 16th season. "Hope and Abi are co-captains and they're really taking the girls and calling them 'my girls.' They're really showing for the first time in many, many years some leadership and are acting like captains."
Reynoldsburg is 6-8 overall and beat Grove City 3-2 on Sept. 20 to finish 1-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division. Pickerington North won the league title at 5-0, followed by Pickerington Central (4-1) and Gahanna (3-2) while the Raiders tied Lancaster and the Greyhounds for fourth.
It was the Raiders' first league win since 2015.
On Sept. 18 against Delaware, freshman first-singles player Olivia Cox and the first-doubles team of Swift and freshman Rowan Toole won, senior Nia Harris lost in three sets at third singles and the second-doubles team of senior Brandi Harrison and freshman Lorelei Dunlap also lost.
At second singles, Chaffin and Delaware's Alana Kay were tied 4-6, 7-5, 4-4 when the match was called because of darkness. The teams hope to complete the match at some point.
Reynoldsburg earned 3-2 victories over Mount Vernon on Sept. 11 and Big Walnut on Sept. 17.
The Raiders also have lost four times by 3-2 scores.
"I have an inexperienced team and my No. 1 is a freshman, so it's going to take a while to get adjusted," Somogyi said. "The frustrating thing is we get these (3-2) losses that should be 3-2 (wins). It's so close I can taste it.
"Olivia Cox, I'm telling you, is going to be huge. Right now she's struggling because she only knows how to play tennis one way and that's by hitting hard. All of her wins are because she's been able to adjust."
Volleyball team making progress
The girls volleyball team is battling through the second half of OCC-Ohio action.
Before facing Grove City on Sept. 24, the Raiders were 4-11 overall and 0-6 in the league.
One of the more positive days of the season occurred Sept. 14 when Reynoldsburg traveled to Olentangy Berlin and beat the host Bears 25-20, 25-23 and Mount Vernon 25-18, 25-23.
"We've had a rough start to our season with injuries and sickness," coach Brittney McKenna said.
"I see the girls improving on our coverage and working together as a team."
The Raiders have a seven-member senior class that is led by Olivia Kirksey and Jessica Ricks, both of whom see time at outside hitter and middle hitter. Kirksey is a South Carolina Upstate commit and Ricks has committed to UNC-Charlotte.
Senior setter Kayla Ferguson and senior libero Jillian Straughter also have been key contributors, while the other seniors are hitters Maya Carter, Leah Delco and Elysia LaPrade.
"My seniors are definitely the leaders on the court," McKenna said. "We have a strong (senior class)."
Girls soccer team heads to stretch run
On Thursday, Sept. 26, the girls soccer team will look to beat Zanesville for the third consecutive season when it plays host to the Blue Devils.
It is the first of three consecutive non-league games for the Raiders, who were 6-3-1 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Pickerington Central on Sept. 24.
Reynoldsburg follows the Zanesville game by playing consecutive contests against teams it endured close losses to last season in Newark (Saturday, Sept. 28) and Westerville North (Tuesday, Oct. 1). It fell to Newark 2-1 and North 2-0.
There will be just one other game -- Oct. 3 at Pickerington North -- for the Raiders to add to their resume before the Division I district tournament drawing is held Oct. 6.
Reynoldsburg then closes the regular season Oct. 9 at home against Lancaster.
After beating Central Crossing 11-0 on Sept. 3, the Raiders went 1-2-1 over their next four games, including losing to Gahanna 5-1 on Sept. 10 and Grove City 4-1 on Sept. 17 in league play.
They beat Logan 4-1 on Sept. 14 as Cassidy Collins had a hat trick and Ryanne Buck also scored.
Buck had the only goal against Grove City, and Collins scored five times against Central Crossing.
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 2 -- Backwoods Fest at Thornville Sheridan
Sept. 28 -- Pickerington Central Invitational at Turnberry
Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Westerville South
Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Watterson
Oct. 1 -- Home vs. Westerville North
Oct. 2 -- Division I sectional at Turnberry. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.
Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Zanesville
Sept. 28 -- At Newark
Oct. 1 -- At Westerville North
Sept. 26 -- At DeSales
Oct. 1 -- At Teays Valley
*Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central. The Raiders lost to the Tigers 25-16, 25-11, 19-25, 25-23 on Sept. 10.
Sept. 28 -- At Canal Winchester
Sept. 30 -- At Groveport
Oct. 1 -- At Logan