Injuries derailed the Delaware Christian School girls volleyball team's hopes of winning its third consecutive MOCAL title this season.
The Eagles finished 10-12 overall, marking their first losing season under 10th-year coach Jackie Boggs, and went 3-5 in the MOCAL to tie Gahanna Christian for third behind Madison Christian (8-0) and Granville Christian (6-4) and ahead of Tree of Life (1-7).
Seeded 10th in the Division IV district tournament, Delaware Christian had a first-round bye and lost to sixth-seeded Harvest Prep 25-21, 25-13, 15-25, 25-18 in the second round Oct. 17.
"I've never had a season like this before," Boggs said. "It was a crazy year and a humbling experience. We're highly skilled. But not being able to play with our full roster, at full strength, except for about four matches, it was just strange."
The Eagles had returned four starters from their 2012 squad, which finished 19-5 overall and 11-1 in the MOCAL to share the title with Madison Christian. The returnees were senior middle hitter Katy Sullivan, junior setter Rachael Kirby, junior right-side hitter Sydney Manny and sophomore outside hitter Erin McCullough.
Kirby was recovering from a torn patella tendon and played only the last five matches. Senior middle hitter Bridget Cooper was injured during a 25-17, 29-27, 19-25, 25-17 loss to Granville Christian on Aug. 27 and had shoulder troubles for the remainder of the season, and Manny suffered a stress fracture in her back.
Moreover, according to Boggs, junior back-row specialist Natalie Plotner spent 14 days in a hospital because of illness.
"We used three different setters and had different lineups most of the season," Boggs said. "Sydney Manny was our second setter, so we moved her from right-side hitter and filled in. Every time we moved people or had an injury, it shifted the lineup again. We never had any real continuity."
Delaware Christian loses two seniors in Cooper and Sullivan. Cooper was named first-team all-MOCAL and second-team all-district and Sullivan was honorable mention all-league.
In addition to Kirby, Manny, McCullough and Plotner, expected to return are juniors Abbey Ruminski (libero) and BethAnn Tobin (outside hitter), sophomore Liz Sullivan (outside hitter/right-side hitter) and freshmen Abbey Evans (outside hitter) and Mary Kerins (setter).
According to Boggs, McCullough led the MOCAL in kills, digs and serve-receive. She was named first-team all-MOCAL and all-district.
"We're going to miss Bridget and Katy because they were our middles, our captains and they were good leaders," Boggs said. "We should have a lot of talent back, but that's what we thought entering this year, too. This season proves that anything can happen, so we need to take advantage, be healthy and come back hungry."
Soccer team placed second in MOCAL
The boys soccer team finished 7-8-1 overall and went 2-1-1 in the MOCAL to place second, behind Gahanna Christian (4-0) and ahead of Granville Christian (1-2-1), Tree of Life (1-3) and Madison Christian (1-3).
Seeded ninth, Delaware Christian lost to 12th-seeded Granville Christian 2-1 in the first round of the Division IV district tournament Oct. 16. The teams had played to a 1-all tie in a MOCAL contest Sept. 24.
The Eagles lose six seniors in defenders Wyatt Bess, Matt Gessner and Neil Williams and midfielders Brock Bishop, Matt Cellar and Adam Houser.
"You always feel bad when you lose seniors, but this is the first class I coached all four years with. I came in with them," coach Levi Witt said. "So as good as they have been and as talented as they are, it's also sentimental. I won't know what to do next year in that first practice when I look out there and don't see them."
Bishop was second on the team in scoring with eight goals and three assists and was named first-team all-league and all-district. Houser was first-team all-league and third-team all-district, Williams was first-team all-league and Cellar was honorable mention all-league.
"Brock was a four-year starter in the center midfield and has really meant a lot to the program," Witt said. "He was always the most knowledgeable player on the field and he'll continue to be an excellent player at Mount Vernon Nazarene, but they all were big contributors. This is the first time I've ever had a class where everyone was a big contributor."
Among the expected returnees are juniors Chris Art (defender) and Grant Bishop (forward), sophomores Wesley Blakemore (midfielder), Dan Fisher (forward) and Brady Gregory (goalkeeper) and freshman Isaac Houser (forward).
Art was first-team all-league, and Blakemore led the team in scoring with 10 goals and three assists.
"We'll only have two seniors next year with Chris Art and Grant Bishop, but both are experienced," Witt said. "Grant was injured and missed the majority of this season and that really hurt us because he had 10 goals as a sophomore.
"But with him, Wesley Blakemore and Isaac Houser, who got a lot of great (playing) time and we expect big things from him, we should have some offensive punch. Plus, Brady Gregory had a real fine season in goal. We have a big sophomore class and they're going to have to come in and step up their game, but I think we've got good pieces."