After losing the first two games of its Division I district semifinal against Westerville Central, the Grove City High School girls volleyball team bounced back to win the third and fourth games.
Unfortunately for the 11th-seeded Greyhounds, they were unable to rally from a slow start in the fifth game of a 26-24, 25-14, 24-26, 23-25, 15-11 loss to the third-seeded Warhawks on Oct. 25 at Big Walnut to finish 18-7 overall.
"We made at least three unforced errors to fall behind 4-1 in the beginning of the fifth game and you can't give away that kind of lead against a team like Westerville Central," coach Alan Pham said. "We had to try to claw our way back into the game and we never could pull even with them again."
The play of senior setter Anna Conti, senior middle hitter Keely Creamer and senior opposite hitter Madison McCarty helped the Greyhounds win the third and fourth games.
"Anna did a great job of moving the ball around and she and Madison did a great job of blocking, too," Pham said. "Once Keely caught fire in the third and fourth games, we hopped on her back and she got us back in the match. We ran a lot of quick sets in the middle and Westerville Central triple-blocked her, but Keely powered her way through their block."
Grove City opened district play Oct. 16 at home with a 25-16, 25-18, 25-14 win over Marysville and defeated 16th-seeded Dublin Scioto 25-17, 30-28, 25-15 in the second round Oct. 18 at home.
The Greyhounds went 9-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division to tie Newark for third, behind Pickerington North (14-0) and Gahanna (11-3) and ahead of Lancaster (7-7), Pickerington Central (4-10), Groveport (2-12) and Reynoldsburg (0-14).
According to Pham, his team's performance in matches against Newark and North in the second round of league play showed that it had made progress. The Greyhounds lost to Newark 25-20, 25-23, 19-25, 20-25, 19-17 on Sept. 4 but beat the Wildcats 25-19, 26-24, 25-19 on Sept. 27. Grove City lost to North 25-15, 25-12, 25-19 on Sept. 18 but was more competitive against the Panthers in a 25-14, 19-25, 26-24, 25-23 loss on Oct. 11.
"We had a strong finish to our regular season and a good start to the tournament," Pham said. "It was nice to win at Newark after losing a close match to them at our place and we were a lot more competitive with Pickerington North the second time around."
The Greyhounds lose six seniors in Conti, Creamer, McCarty, outside hitter Katie Faught, libero Ambyr George and opposite hitter Allison Waddle. All but Waddle were starters.
Creamer, a Northern Kentucky University recruit who led the team with 296 kills, 41 aces and 77 blocks, was named first-team all-district and Conti, who had 715 assists, 27 blocks, 224 digs and 45 aces, was second-team all-district.
George, who has verbally committed to Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, W.Va., had 311 digs and 456 serve receptions, McCarty had 168 kills and 34 blocks and Faught had 104 kills and 27 aces.
Expected to return are junior Mariah Matthew (middle hitter) and sophomores Haven Kulp (defensive specialist), Andrea Miller (setter) and Amanda Radich (outside hitter).
Radich was a starter who had 259 kills, 209 digs, 355 serve receptions, 26 aces and 26 blocks, and Kulp had 148 digs and 335 serve receptions.
"Our seniors have been great this year, especially with their leadership on the court," Pham said. "We have some good players coming back. Amanda Radich showed great improvement this year. Her skill level is amazing for a sophomore."
Comets fall in tourney opener
Central Crossing lost to Lancaster 25-21, 25-18, 25-16 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 15 at Lancaster to finish 4-19 overall.
The Comets went 1-13 in the OCC-Central to place eighth, behind Dublin Coffman (14-0), Olentangy Liberty (12-2), Hilliard Davidson (9-5), Thomas Worthington (8-6), Upper Arlington (6-8), Marysville (4-10) and Westland (2-12).
"We had an up-and-down year," coach Julie Evans said. "Our record wasn't what we were hoping for, but our girls played hard day in and day out.
"We stuck together through the tough times and were able to pull out some tough wins in the end."
The Comets lose four seniors in defensive specialists Emily Albaugh, Megan Hendershot and Amy Jacobs and opposite hitter Hannah Miller. Hendershot was named second-team all-district and first-team all-league and Albaugh was honorable mention all-league.
Among those expected to return are juniors Brooke Andrick (defensive special-ist/outside hitter), Kelsi Cammarata (defensive special-ist/outside hitter), Rose LeVal-ly (middle hitter/opposite hitter), Kelsie Rivers (outside hitter), Erin Scott (setter) and Hunter Taylor (outside hitter) and sophomores Payton Baker (middle hitter/opposite hitter), Bolaji Oseni (middle hitter) and Devin Warner (setter).
"It will be hard to see our seniors go. They were the glue of this team that kept everyone together," Evans said. "I look forward to seeing how our juniors take over and learn from how our seniors kept this team together during the toughest moments of our season. We have a lot of young talent stepping up and it is very encouraging to see how we will rebound for next season."