Two goals for Gahanna Christian Academy girls volleyball coach Nate Kirk and his team each year are to improve on the previous season's record and to play well in the Division IV district tournament.
The Eagles will look for a successful finish to the regular season to help achieve the first goal when they visit Grove City Christian on Thursday, Oct. 11. Gahanna Christian won the first meeting 25-9, 25-13, 25-3 on Sept. 18.
Gahanna Christian defeated Berne Union 25-19, 25-9, 25-17 on Oct. 8 and was 15-6 overall and 7-4 in the MOCAL before playing Tree of Life on Oct. 9. Last season, the Eagles went 15-7.
Seeded sixth, Gahanna Christian opens the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 16, by playing host to eighth-seeded Danville. The winner plays seventh-seeded Madison Christian in the second round Oct. 18.
"Five of our eight players are seniors, so I thought we should have had a good team and it is," Kirk said. "The team is looking forward to the tournament. We've talked about it off and on all year and we hope to have a good tournament."
Madison Christian was first in the MOCAL at 10-1 before playing Grove City Christian on Oct. 9.
"We're playing well," Kirk said. "We can compete with just about anybody out there."
Kirk said his team could have a better record if not for three close losses.
"We lost three matches this year by two points in the fifth game," he said. "Our season is just a matter of a few points. It could have been even more of a winning season. We were right there on the edge in three matches, losing by two points. It's kind of a heartbreaker to have that many that close."
Gahanna Christian lost to Harvest Prep 10-25, 25-20, 25-14, 22-25, 15-13 on Aug. 27, Delaware Christian 25-27, 25-18, 25-21, 23-25, 15-13 on Sept. 27 and Madison Christian 25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 22-25, 16-14 on Sept. 29.
Kirk is hoping his team can advance to a district final for the first time. Last season, Gahanna Christian lost to Newark Catholic 25-16, 25-18, 25-16 in a district semifinal.
"Last year we went to the semifinal and hope to at least get to the semifinal this year," he said. "Our goal at the beginning of the year was to get into the final and I believe we can still do that. We're just going to play at the top of our game and get a pretty decent bracket. I think we can make it. We're just going to have to play well."
Through 20 matches, senior outside hitter Christina Grubich led the Eagles in kills with 120. She had 224 digs and 34 aces.
Junior outside hitter Cierra Jackson had 190 kills, 250 digs and 40 aces, and sophomore setter Jenna Kirk, the coach's daughter, had 270 assists, 165 digs and 41 aces.
"The team has improved throughout the season," Jenna said. "I enjoy setting to some great hitters. The highlight of our season has been playing for breast cancer awareness with 'Dig Pink' Oct. 2 against Tree of Life. We hope to do well in the tournament."
Gahanna Christian defeated visiting Tree of Life 25-14, 25-16, 25-13 on Oct. 2. Proceeds from the "Dig Pink" event benefited the nonprofit Side-Out Foundation.
Boys soccer team preparing for tourney
Scott Ramsey, in his first season as coach of the boys soccer team, is happy with the Eagles' play heading into the postseason.
Gahanna Christian, seeded 13th, opens the Division III district tournament Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 14th-seeded Northridge. The winner plays eighth-seeded West Jefferson or 15th-seeded Liberty Union in the second round Oct. 20.
"I am very pleased with our team this year," said Ramsey, who was an assistant coach under Brandon McCoy last season. "The first year with a new program is always a giant learning curve for the coach and the team. I think the players have responded well to what we have tried to do this year. I enjoy the challenge of coaching -- probably my largest challenge to date."
The Eagles were 9-5 overall and 2-2 in the MOCAL before playing Tree of Life on Oct. 9. The Trojans were first in the MOCAL at 4-0.
Through 14 games, junior midfielder Connor Maclellan had 15 goals and 15 assists, freshman forward Emmanuel Dapaa had 11 goals and seven assists, senior forward Patrick Thomas had 10 goals and eight assists and junior midfielder/forward Connor Dyckes had nine goals and nine assists.
Sophomore goalkeeper Alec Schlesselman had 85 saves.
"As with any team, we have had our struggles with injuries, but our main issue has been inconsistency," Ramsey said. "Our starting lineup has only played three games together, the first two and the last one (Oct. 2). This has left us filling holes and moving players around to compensate. We are seeing a great progression with our reserve players as a result. With the increased time and position realignment, they are becoming well rounded."