With the outright OCC-Ohio Division title on the line, Grove City High School girls volleyball coach Alan Pham was concerned nerves would get the best of his players in front of a noisy crowd Oct. 8 at Lancaster.
Instead, the Greyhounds were unfazed by the situation and defeated the Golden Gales 25-13, 25-20, 30-32, 25-13 to capture the OCC-Ohio championship.
Pham said it was the first league title in program history.
"The atmosphere at Lancaster was very much like a championship match," Pham said. "It was a high-energy environment to play in, but our kids were calm and cool throughout the evening. We have such a young team that I don't think they realized the historical significance of the opportunity we had that night, so they viewed it as just another match and just went out and played. In this case, it was probably better that we didn't get too worked up over the importance of the match because Lancaster was a big enough challenge by themselves."
Two days later, Grove City defeated Pickerington North 25-18, 25-20, 23-25, 25-18 to improve to 18-2 overall and finish 14-0 in the OCC-Ohio. Lancaster placed second (12-2) and North finished third (10-4).
"We've seen all of these championship banners hanging up on our gymnasium's walls and one of our goals has been to become the first volleyball team to win a banner for our school," Pham said. "This was a monumental win for us as a program."
The Greyhounds utilized a balanced scoring attack against Lancaster, with outside hitters Amanda Radich (20 kills) and Rae-Kelly Hamilton (14 kills) and middle hitters Jorian George (10 kills) and Sarah Mitcham (eight kills) leading the way.
"Amanda and Rae-Kelly both hit over .300 against Lancaster and that's the first time they've both hit over .300 in the same match all season," Pham said.
The fourth-seeded Greyhounds opened the Division I district tournament Oct. 14 by beating 36th-seeded Upper Arlington 25-17, 25-16, 27-25. Grove City played host to 31st-seeded Westland in the second round Oct. 16.
The winner of the second-round match advanced to a district semifinal Oct. 24 at Bloom-Carroll.
"We have some big hammers on offense and a really fast defense, which is a great combination," Pham said. "To go far in the tournament, we need to continue to play our brand of volleyball and to stay healthy."
Comets competing in district tourney
Central Crossing played host to 38th-seeded Franklin Heights on Oct. 16 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
The 28th-seeded Comets, who had a first-round bye, were 8-14 overall entering that match and finished 1-13 in the OCC-Central after ending the regular season with four consecutive league losses.
With a win over Franklin Heights, Central Crossing would advance to a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Whitehall to face top-seeded DeSales, 29th-seeded Briggs or 34th-seeded Pickerington Central.
The district final is Oct. 26 at Whitehall.
"We need to continue to work on consistency and a faster offense to work our way back to the level we are comfortable playing at," coach Julie Evans said.
"Rose LeVally has continued to push herself in the middle-hitter position with blocking and quick transitions. ... Her hitting has become more consistent and she is working on always finding the best spot to place the ball. Molly Stenger has stepped into the libero role nicely this year and has improved her ability at reading the other teams' hitters and placing herself in the best position to pass the ball."