Coach Edward Cruz is looking for a happy medium with his Bexley High School girls volleyball team.
He applauds his players' passion for winning, but hopes they'll also learn to relax.
"They care so deeply about winning, so when they get close they get a little tight," said Cruz, who is in his second season. "We have been working on just relaxing and playing the game."
The Lions did just that toward the end of the first game in their home match against Centennial on Sept. 21. After their four-point lead became a one-point deficit, Bexley pulled out a 26-24 win in the first game before taking the second game 25-11 to defeat the Stars.
It was the second match of the day for both teams as part of a tri-match that also included Buckeye Valley. In the first match, the Barons beat Lions 23-25, 27-25, 25-22.
Bexley was 7-8 overall before an MSL-Ohio Division match against West Jefferson on Sept. 24.
"We play everybody close. We're probably, each match, a couple points away from having an outrageously good record," Cruz said. "It's just those little things of mentally getting over the hump."
An 11-point service run from senior libero Kayleigh Dietz to open the second game against Centennial helped clinch the win. She had three aces during that span.
"It felt great. I was in the zone and I don't think I have ever gone on a run that big, so that was pretty exciting," Dietz said. "I really wanted to win that match in two (games). I pushed myself really hard."
Junior outside hitter Olivia Riley had five kills and three service points, including a pair of aces, while senior middle hitter Taylor Simmons had five service points and four kills.
Since taking over, Cruz said the coaching staff has made significant changes in the program, including hitting philosophies, approach angles and footwork in addition to adding plays. He said the Lions still must improve their passing, but he enjoys coaching this group.
"I know where we are going and I know we are going to get there, and the girls know we're going to get there," Cruz said. "They are disappointed and emotional after losses, but they know they can do it. (Despite the 7-8 record) they are still confident and they are a mentally tough team."
Football team seeks rare 5-0 start
The football team routed host Grandview 48-12 in its MSL-Ohio opener Sept. 20 to improve to 4-0 overall for the first time since 2006.
Junior quarterback Andre Stewart ran for three touchdowns in the first quarter and finished with 215 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Senior running back Rasheed Morgan rushed for 157 yards and three scores on eight attempts, as the Lions amassed 543 yards rushing while dropping the Bobcats to 1-3 overall.
The Lions, who went 2-8 a year ago, are eyeing their first 5-0 start since the 1982 team won its first eight games.
Bexley plays Friday, Sept. 27, at Whitehall.
"I was pleased with the kids (against Grandview). They did a great job offensively, defensively and special teams-wise," coach John Smith said. "I'm surprised how it went down, that is the biggest surprise.
"It was just kind of one of those nights."
Stewart scored on runs of 4, 72 and 35 yards to give Bexley a 21-0 lead. After a 50-minute weather delay, the Lions picked up where they left off.
Morgan scored on runs of 55 and 31 yards before Zach Ward's 4-yard touchdown run made it 41-6 at halftime. Morgan added a 17-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Whitehall has won the last three meetings against the Lions, including 28-10 in the 2012 season finale.
"Just remembering from a year ago, (B.J.) Upchurch single-handedly beat us last year," Smith said. "We did not have an answer for him. We couldn't stop him."
Last year, Upchurch had 16 carries for 225 yards and three touchdowns against Bexley.
"They played a pretty good schedule up to this point and we have our work cut out for us this week," Smith said. "We're growing as a football team and that is pleasing."
Girls tennis team set for league tourney
Having won three consecutive dual matches, the girls tennis team entered the week 7-5 overall and 4-1 in the MSL-Ohio.
The Lions will play in the MSL-Ohio tournament Saturday, Sept. 28, at Columbus Academy after it was postponed Sept. 21 because of bad weather.
"We're actually playing pretty well right now," coach Shelby Cheses said. "We had two wins last week and we are pretty confident going into the (league) tournament."
However, she said Academy remains the team to beat.
"Columbus Academy has some really strong players, so second place would be a good place for us to finish," Cheses said.
Sophomore Caroline Phillips has played the entire season at first singles, while sophomore Sammi Levy and freshman Allison Meyer each has seen action at second singles. Junior Sarah Gundy, in her first season on varsity, has been at third singles. Freshman Maggie Walker has played first doubles with Meyer or senior Hallie Wirthman, with senior Katie Butler teaming with Meyer or Wirthman at second doubles.
"They are having fun right now," Cheses said. "I think we are in a pretty good place."
Boys golf team takes fourth in MSL tourney
The boys golf team carded a 345 to finish fourth of seven teams in the MSL-Ohio postseason tournament Sept. 17 at Darby Creek.
Columbus Academy won with a 316, while Worthington Christian's Robert Maloney was medalist with a 73.
Bexley, seeded third in the district in Division II, competed in an 11-team sectional Sept. 24 at Granville Golf Course. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament Monday, Sept. 30, at River Greens.
Girls golfers third in league tournament
Liza Weisman of the girls golf team shot an 81 to finish second in the MSL postseason tournament Sept. 18 at Blacklick Woods. The sophomore led the Lions to a third-place finish in a six-team field.
Bailey Stephens of Madison Plains was medalist (78) and led the Golden Eagles (393) to the team title, followed by Teays Valley (419) and Bexley (450).
Vahni Kurra (116), Maya Maynard (126) and Emily Walker (127) rounded out the scoring for Bexley.
The Lions competed in a 10-team Division II sectional Sept. 25 at Blacklick Woods. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Blacklick Woods.
Cross country teams win at Whetstone
Both the boys and girls cross country teams turned in first-place finishes in Whetstone's Arrowhead Invitational on Sept. 18.
For the boys, senior Ian Kellogg placed second (16 minutes, 13 seconds) of 204 runners.
Each of Bexley's top five runners placed in the top 21 as the Lions (70) finished 48 points better than runner-up Buckeye Valley.
Senior Cole Keny was 11th (17:33), junior Patrick Lape was 16th (18:08), junior Jackson Feinknopf was 20th (18:17) and senior Alex Meyer was 21st (18:20).
Luke Evans of Grandview won in 16:06.
For the girls, each of the top five runners placed in the top 12 in a 197-runner field, leading to a winning score of 42 points.
Grandview's Ali Lachey won in 19:17.
For Bexley, senior Regan Detwiler was fifth (20:36), sophomore Meg Rhoads was sixth (20:40), senior Meghan Hayden was ninth (20:57), senior Lissy Schmidt was 10th (21:04) and freshman Veronica Mendivil was 12th (21:10).