The Watterson High School boys volleyball team trailed against each of its three higher-seeded opponents in the Division II East Region tournament, but rallied to win all three matches to advance to state for the first time since 2002.
The Eagles play Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in a state semifinal at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 24, at Hamilton, with the winner facing Cincinnati McNicholas or Kettering Alter in the state final at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 25.
Watterson beat Walsh Jesuit 25-19, 17-25, 25-18 on April 5. The Warriors enter state with a 19-6 record.
"Walsh Jesuit has a great setter who triggers their offense," coach Anthony Randolph said. "They play great defense and pick up everything.
"I'm confident because I believe we have a good enough team to win state, but we have to prove it. It's all for nothing if we don't beat (Walsh Jesuit) again to get to the final."
Seeded sixth in the East Region, Watterson defeated third-seeded Worthington Kilbourne 26-28, 25-6, 25-17, 25-14 in a regional final May 16 at Hilliard Davidson to improve to 18-7.
The Eagles won their fifth regional title, having also earned championships in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002. They were state runners-up to Centerville in 2002 after losing in a semifinal in their first three trips to state.
"We knew (Kilbourne) had a good outside hitter in Jacob Bloom and a quick middle hitter in Keegan Flaherty, so we practiced a defensive strategy to shut those guys down and we executed it perfectly in games two and four," Randolph said. "Our best hitter (Zackary Storc) had a rare off night, but Luke Andracki stepped up his hitting on the outside."
Watterson upset top-seeded Mount Vernon 22-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 16-14 in a regional semifinal May 13 after defeating second-seeded DeSales 25-14, 20-25, 15-25, 25-22, 15-12 in the first round May 9.
"I give a lot of the credit for this championship to our seniors because they're mentally mature and they kept everyone focused throughout the tournament," Randolph said. "We knew that every one of these matches was going to be tough, but we prepared ourselves to do well in the tournament because we played tough competition all season.
"Everyone was talking all year about how it would be Mount Vernon or DeSales winning this tournament, so I think we were overlooked."
Watterson trailed Mount Vernon 14-13 in the fifth game but scored three consecutive points for the win.
"I told our setter (Matt Randolph) to only set Storc the rest of the match," coach Randolph said. "The whole gym knew the ball was going to Storc, but he put it away three times in a row and we won.
"My brother is the leader and commander of our team at setter, but Storc is our heart and soul as our go-to hitter. Our opposite hitter (Dylan Egle) and both middle hitters (Matt Hughes and Adam Schnitkey) have done a great job when we've needed them to, too."
Baseball team wins district opener
The baseball team defeated 20th-seeded Whitehall 10-0 in five innings in the second round of the Division II district tournament May 15 at home.
Sam Rice pitched a four-hitter and Avery Janning went 2-for-3 with two RBI to pace the fourth-seeded Eagles, who had a first-round bye.
"The game went well and we got it done in five innings," coach Scott Manahan said. "Sam Rice did a nice job of not walking people. Whitehall had a decent pitcher, but we hit him well throughout the lineup."
Watterson was 17-7 before playing sixth-seeded Lakewood in a district semifinal May 19 at Gahanna. The winner played top-seeded Bloom-Carroll or eighth-seeded Sparta Highland in a district final May 21 at Beavers Field in Lancaster.
The district champion faces Gallipolis Gallia Academy, Hillsboro, Jackson or Logan Elm in a regional semifinal May 29 at Gant Memorial Stadium in Zanesville.
"We have good pitching depth, which is important in the tournament," Manahan said. "We just need to play our best baseball because you can't get away with doing anything subpar as you get deeper in the tournament."
Doubles team advances to district tourney
Stev Gregory and Michael Guza of the boys tennis team will compete in doubles in the Division II district tournament Friday, May 23, and Saturday, May 24, at Columbus Academy.
The top two placers in doubles at district advance to state May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
Gregory and Guza went 3-1 and placed third in the sectional that concluded May 18 at Columbus School for Girls, as the top four finishers in singles and doubles qualified for district.
Going 1-1 at sectional were Michael O'Brien, Samwise Parkinson and Tommy Scherer in singles and the doubles team of Jae-Suk Bae and Ryan Mar.
Watterson defeated DeSales 3-2 on May 12 to finish 3-1 in the CCL but lost to Hilliard Bradley 3-2 on May 13 to finish 3-14 overall.
Track teams place second in CCL
Both the boys and girls track and field teams placed second in the CCL meet May 15 and 17.
The boys team scored 123.5 points to finish behind St. Charles (188) and ahead of host DeSales (91), Hartley (56.5) and Ready (27).
Dominic Lombardi won both the 110-meter hurdles (14.5 seconds) and 300 hurdles (39.5) and teamed with Brad Kanney, Ryan Urquhart and Cody Calhoun to win the 400 relay (43.1).
The girls team scored 138 points to finish behind CSG (145) and ahead of Hartley (94), DeSales (90) and Ready (22).
Finishing first were Jessica Passwater in the 3,200 (12:18.9), Dominique Garrett in the discus (117 feet, 5 inches), Marissa Wierzbicki in the shot put (35-5) and the 800 relay of Juliana Rotolo, Hanna Merklin, J'Niah Johnston-Reynolds and Michelle Lehmann (1:48.9).
This week, the boys team is competing in the Division II, district 2 meet that concludes Saturday, May 24, at Heath. The top four placers in each district event advance to regional May 29 and 31 at Lexington.
The girls team is competing in the Division I, district 3 meet that concludes May 24 at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to regional Wednesday, May 28, and May 30 at Pickerington North.
Boys lacrosse team falls to Cardinals
The boys lacrosse team lost to St. Charles 6-4 on May 16 to drop to 7-7.
Seeded fourth, Watterson played host to 12th-seeded Big Walnut in a Division II Central/Northwest Region play-in game May 21. The winner plays host fifth-seeded Granville or 10th-seeded Bexley in the first round Friday, May 23.
The first-round winner plays at top-seeded DeSales, ninth-seeded Whitehouse Anthony Wayne or 13th-seeded Toledo Central Catholic in the second round Wednesday, May 28.
Watterson beat Granville 14-3 on May 6 and Bexley 12-3 on April 4, but lost to DeSales 6-5 in double overtime April 2.
Softball team falls in district tourney
The softball team lost to 11th-seeded Big Walnut 3-0 in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 16 to finish 5-14.
Seeded 40th, Watterson had only two hits off Big Walnut pitcher Kate Petty.
The Eagles upset 21st-seeded Central Crossing 9-8 in the first round May 13, as Ashley Competti pitched the final five innings to earn the win.
Girls lacrosse team ousted from tourney
The girls lacrosse team lost to host Hartley 20-13 in the first round of the Division II South/Central Region tournament May 12 to finish 9-8.
Ellie Wood had six goals to lead the Eagles. Mackenzie James added four goals, Torie Sullivan scored three and Ashley Smith had 16 saves.