The Dublin Coffman High School girls volleyball team will remember its 25-13, 19-25, 25-11, 25-10 win over Westland in an OCC-Central Division match Oct. 3 for two reasons.
First, the Shamrocks clinched at least a share of their seventh consecutive league championship. They were 15-4 overall and 12-0 in the OCC-Central before playing Olentangy Liberty on Oct. 8 and close league play Thursday, Oct. 10, at home against Upper Arlington.
"We're definitely proud of winning another OCC title because that's become a tradition for us to win our league championship," senior outside hitter Beatrice Hannan said.
The Oct. 3 match also marked the return of coach Mary Anne Souder, who had missed the previous 11 matches.
"Coach Souder had to leave for about a month to deal with a family emergency and, when she returned, it was very emotional for all of us," Hannan said. "While she was gone, (assistant coach Monika Sabol) stepped in and did a great job, but we're all so glad coach Souder is back and we all want to play well for her."
Souder and her husband, Will, had to take their 20-month-old son, Liam, to a hospital Sept. 10 after he became ill. After undergoing medical tests, Liam was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer that develops from immature nerve cells. Souder said Liam has begun chemotherapy and that his expected 18-month treatment also could include surgery, radiation therapy and a bone marrow transplant.
Souder, who is pregnant with twin daughters who are due Dec. 9, and her husband are grateful for the support they have received since Liam fell ill. Against Westland, the Coffman players wore gold ribbons on their shoe laces and chanted Liam's name before the match began.
"We're so grateful because the whole Dublin community has been super supportive," Souder said. "My players have been Liam's babysitters and he's been a little inspiration for our team. When I came back to coach them again, it felt like I was going back to my family. Everyone has been so great from (Coffman athletics director) Tony Pusateri to the parents to my players."
After concluding the regular season on Saturday, Oct. 12, at Toledo St. Ursula, Coffman will prepare for the Division I district tournament. The Shamrocks are seeded second and have a first-round bye. They will face 27th-seeded Logan or 33rd-seeded Whetstone in the second round Wednesday, Oct. 16, at home.
Last year, Coffman reached a regional semifinal before losing to Massillon Jackson 25-20, 25-20, 25-22.
If the Shamrocks reach regional again this year, they would become the first team in the district to win seven consecutive district titles.
"We're tied with Watterson for the record for the most district titles in a row right now, so we want to win our seventh in a row to break that record," Souder said. "Everyone on our team has played really well to contribute to our OCC championship, especially our three seniors, Beatrice Hannan, (opposite hitter) Kacey Barrett and (libero) Kelsey Kiley."
Irish place fourth in home tourney
Scioto went 3-0 last week and was 12-5 overall and 9-3 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Hilliard Bradley on Oct. 8 and Canal Winchester on Oct. 9.
The Irish defeated Upper Arlington 25-14, 25-14, 25-12 on Sept. 30 before winning league matches against Jerome, 25-16, 25-15, 25-21 on Oct. 1, and Hilliard Darby, 25-21, 25-17, 25-20 on Oct. 3.
Scioto played host to an eight-team tournament Sept. 28, going 1-2 and placing fourth. It beat Chillicothe 25-17, 25-8 in its first match, then lost to eventual champion Sparta Highland 25-23, 25-14 in a semifinal before losing to Amanda-Clearcreek 26-24, 25-20 in the consolation final.
"With so many matches the past two weeks, we've had a lot of individuals step up and contribute," coach Jackie Helm said. "Ashlyn Leon, our sophomore libero, has been absolutely amazing in the back court. She gets to so many balls that look like they should hit the ground.
"Casey Mandeville has led our offense, averaging upwards of 25 assists per match. Seniors McKenzie Schuster and Satsuki Kubo continue to lead the attack, averaging 12 and 11 kills per match. Junior right-side (hitter) Maddie Wilcox has also made a big difference on the team this year. She is one of our most consistent players, from the serving line, on serve receive, defense, and as an attacker."
Scioto is seeded 12th in the Division I district tournament and opens at home against 46th-seeded Northland in the second round Wednesday, Oct. 16. Both teams have a first-round bye.
"Before the season started, the girls made it a goal to make it (to a district semifinal)," Helm said. "I am confident that we will and, if we play the way we are capable of, I believe we can go even further. Our keys to success this tournament will be consistency, discipline on defense and maintaining a fast offensive tempo."
Celtics continue good effort amid struggles
Jerome lost to Canal Winchester 25-15, 20-25, 25-15, 25-22 on Oct. 3 and was 0-18 overall and 0-12 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Westerville South on Oct. 8.
"This team shows tremendous character," coach Katherine Fogg said. "Losing seasons are tough to swallow, but these girls come out every game and put forth their best effort. They continue to work together as a team with the goal in the end to take a match.
"The lineup has changed a few times and every girl that gets moved steps up her role in those positions. Kaylee Fredrickson has moved to the middle and has really stepped up. Carly Willson and Maddie Miller have been two players changing positions in the front row. Carly has been moved to the right side some and has had several key blocks. Taylor Wells was out with an injury but has come back and is playing well in the back row."
Jerome opens the Division I district tournament Oct. 17 at third-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 43rd-seeded Walnut Ridge in the second round. The Celtics, who are seeded 45th, have a first-round bye.
"In the end, we're looking to take this as a steppingstone into next year," Fogg said.