A slow start in its Division IV district semifinal match almost cost the Delaware Christian School girls volleyball team an opportunity to play for its first district championship.
Seeded fifth, the Eagles defeated sixth-seeded Gahanna Christian 14-25, 25-22, 25-21, 22-25, 15-12 on Oct. 24 at Hilliard Darby to improve to 19-4. They played second-seeded Shekinah Christian in a district final Oct. 27.
Delaware Christian had swept Gahanna Christian in MOCAL play, winning 25-21, 25-21, 25-23 on Aug. 28 and 25-27, 25-18, 25-21, 23-25, 15-13 on Sept. 20.
"We expected a tough match because Gahanna Christian is a good team and they're coached well," coach Jackie Boggs said. "But they really took it to us in the first and fourth games. Fortunately, Lenora Boyer and Brenna McCullough were going to will us to the win. You could see it in their eyes after the first game. They got help. Our freshman, Erin McCullough, played a great match, too."
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, at Lancaster, where it faces Reedsville Eastern, Leesburg Fairfield, Portsmouth Clay or Waterford. The winner plays Newark Catholic, Harvest Prep, Beaver Eastern and South Webster in the regional final at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at Lancaster.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal Nov. 9 at Wright State University.
In its district semifinal, Delaware Christian held leads of 10-4 and 12-6 in the fifth game before Gahanna Christian rallied to cut its deficit to 14-12.
Gahanna Christian jumped out to an 11-3 lead in the first game and had leads of 3-0, 17-16 and 22-19 in the second game before the Eagles scored the final six points, as Boyer had an ace, Erin McCullough had two kills and Brenna McCullough had one kill.
There were 12 ties in the third game, with the last being at 20. The Eagles scored four of their final five points in the game on kills by Boyer.
In the fourth game, Gahanna Christian led 17-9 before the Eagles rallied to cut their deficit to 18-16. Trailing 24-19, the Eagles won three consecutive points before Gahanna Christian closed out the game.
"That was just a terrific, exciting match," Boggs said. "I wonder how things would've turned out if we came out and played well in the first game. We didn't serve well and we allowed them to swing down the lines on us even after we prepared for that."
Against Gahanna Christina, Boyer had 20 kills, 30 digs and three aces, Brenna McCullough had 15 kills and 33 digs, Erin McCullough had 11 kills, 25 digs and two aces, Bridget Cooper had six kills and four aces, Sydney Manny had 20 digs and Rachael Kirby had 51 assists and was 148-for-152 setting.
Delaware Christian, which had a first-round bye, defeated visiting Fisher Catholic 25-13, 25-21, 20-25, 25-14 in the second round Oct. 18.
Boys soccer team loses tourney opener
The boys soccer team's season ended with a 4-1 loss to sixth-seeded Tree of Life 4-1 in the second round of the Division III district tournament Oct. 20.
Delaware Christian, which was seeded fifth and had a first-round bye, finished 14-3 overall.
"I can't explain it and I don't understand it," third-year coach Levi Witt said. "We came out majorly flat and gave up two goals pretty quick, within 10 to 15 minutes. It was shocking. I definitely had confidence that we could win and have a good tournament run. It goes to show you that if you don't play well things can be ugly. We fell behind and couldn't recover.
"That was the case in all three of our losses. We lost the first half and dominated the second, but it was too little, too late."
Delaware Christian, trying to push forward, got caught and yielded a third goal with under 10 minutes left in the first half against Tree of Life. The Trojans added a penalty kick to take a 4-0 lead into halftime.
It was the third time in the past nine seasons that the Eagles lost in their tournament opener.
Delaware Christian went 4-1 in the MOCAL to place second, behind Tree of Life (4-0-1) and ahead of Gahanna Christian (2-2-1), Granville Christian (2-2-1), Madison Christian (1-3-1) and Grove City Christian (0-5).
The Eagles lost to Tree of Life 2-1 in league play Sept. 18. Their other loss came against Grandview, 3-0 on Sept. 20.
Delaware Christian loses seven seniors, including four regular starters in Pete Kerins (defensive midfielder), Luke McGrath (goalkeeper), Joe Miser (defender) and Jackson Quist (forward). The other seniors are Zach Blakemore (midfielder/defender), Michael Desrosiers (defender) and David Tobin (defender).
"We're losing the backbone of the team, the guys that helped us go 26-7-2 the past two seasons," Witt said. "Luke was a three-year starter in goal, Jackson was our leading scorer the past two years and we'll definitely miss Pete and Joe on defense. Pete was also a focal part of our set pieces."
McGrath and Quist, who had 18 goals and five assists, were named first-team all-MOCAL. Kerins, who had seven goals, and Miser were second-team all-league.
Expected to return are juniors Wyatt Bess (forward), Brock Bishop (center midfielder), Matt Cellar (defender/midfielder), Matt Gessner (utility), Adam Houser (midfielder/forward) and Neil Williams (midfielder), sophomores Chris Art (sweeper) and Grant Bishop (forward) and freshmen Wesley Blakemore (center midfielder), Dan Fisher (forward) and Brady Gregory (goalie).
Brock Bishop, who had nine goals and 10 assists, was first-team all-league. Howser (6 goals, 5 assists) was second-team all-league and Grant Bishop (10 goals) and Art were honorable mention all-league.
"We've got six solid juniors coming back, including Brock, who was the head or brains of the team," Witt said. "Williams made major improvements and was the surprise of the season and Cellar was strong defensively. Houser did great at outside wing, and we have a huge freshman class coming in."