Returnees sparking hopes at Bradley
Hilliard Bradley High School girls volleyball coach RyAnne Ufferman likes the makeup of her team this season.
The Jaguars return five starters from last season, when they finished 20-5 overall, won their first league title and reached a Division I district semifinal before losing to Thomas Worthington 25-22, 14-25, 20-25, 25-22, 15-13.
"Our team is athletic. When we react to the game, we play it very well," said Ufferman, who is in her fourth season leading the program. "We have some position players who are very strong and fast in their positions, and that is a big strength for us."
The returning starters are senior Karlee Hehemann (middle blocker), juniors Lexi Jacobs (outside hitter), Jen Espenschied (libero) and Christy Tieman (setter) and sophomore Raimey Benson (outside hitter).
Senior Mariah Sayre (defensive specialist) also is a returning letterwinner.
"Jen Espenschied and Christy Tieman are returning captains for us," said Ufferman, whose team was 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Westerville Central on Sept. 4. "They are juniors this year, and they bring more experience and more vocal leadership. They are communicating with their teammates and really setting the tone for the season. Mariah Sayre and Karlee Hehemann are our seniors. They have been great role models for the young athletes in our program."
Also on the team are sophomores Aly Cecutti (setter/defensive specialist), Darby Connors (middle blocker), Alexa Dixon (outside hitter), Kaylee Ewen (outside hitter), Meredith Miller (outside hitter) and freshman Haylie Phillips (setter).
"Our team really enjoys playing the game," Ufferman said. "They really want to learn and get better. They work hard to apply what we are teaching them in practice."
Last year, Bradley won the OCC-Capital championship, going 13-1 to finish ahead of Big Walnut (12-2), Mount Vernon (11-3), Olentangy Orange (7-7), New Albany (6-8), Delaware (6-8), Watkins Memorial (2-12) and Franklin Heights (0-14).
As part of OCC realignment this summer, the Jaguars moved into the OCC-Cardinal with Darby, Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Westerville Central, Westerville North, Westerville South and Worthington Kilbourne.
Bradley opened with a 25-21, 25-11, 25-14 win over Central Crossing on Aug. 25. They then defeated Jerome (26-24, 25-17, 25-19 on Aug. 28) and South (31-29, 25-11, 25-16 on Aug. 30) in league matches before going 3-0 in a tri-match Sept. 1 at Lancaster.
The Jaguars beat Lancaster 25-23, 25-19, New Concord John Glenn 25-15, 30-28 and Zanesville West Muskingum 25-18, 23-25, 25-12.
Wildcats return four starters
Davidson returns four starters from last season, when it finished 12-10 overall, placed third in the OCC-Central and lost to Grove City 25-13, 25-16, 25-23 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
The Wildcats went 8-6 in the OCC-Central to finish behind Dublin Coffman (14-0) and Upper Arlington (12-2) and ahead of Kilbourne (7-7), Central Crossing (7-7), Thomas (6-8), Darby (2-12) and Westland (0-14).
As part of OCC realignment, Olentangy Liberty and Marysville moved into the OCC-Central and Darby and Kilbourne went to the OCC-Cardinal.
The returning starters are seniors Katie Campbell (middle hitter), Molly Murphy (outside hitter/setter), Alex Netto (libero) and Jordyn Schultz (defensive specialist). Another starter, sophomore Meghan Murphy (outside hitter), is expected to miss the season with a back injury.
"The seniors have done an outstanding job over the summer and this season leading the whole program," said 14th-year coach Betty Cameron, whose team was 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Westland on Sept. 4. "They have taken the younger players under their wing and have guided them very well."
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Olivia Canestraro (outside hitter), Kendall Lombard (outside hitter), Meghan Munson (setter) and Anne Schroeder (middle hitter).
"This team gets along very well with each other," Cameron said. "They help each other out and push each other to be accountable for their actions on and off the court.
"They also have a willingness to learn new techniques and they have a great, hard work ethic. They want to be better than they were yesterday and always are working toward their goals."
Davidson opened with a 25-23, 25-22, 25-16 loss to Mansfield Madison on Aug. 25. It then defeated Teays Valley 25-13, 25-8, 25-7 on Aug. 27, lost to Coffman 25-18, 25-23, 24-26, 25-11 in its league opener Aug. 28 and beat Central Crossing 25-22, 25-22, 25-17 in a league match Aug. 30.
On Sept. 1, Davidson lost to Newark (25-17, 25-17) and defeated Darby (25-16, 18-25, 25-20) and Delaware (25-22, 25-21) in its Sharon Huesman Memorial quad-match.
Panthers looking to get on track
Darby returns four starters and seven letterwinners from last season, when it finished 2-20 overall and lost to Olentangy 25-18, 25-17, 25-19 in the opening round of the Division I district tournament.
Both of its wins came against Westland (25-21, 25-19, 25-18 and 25-14, 25-15, 25-9) in OCC-Central play.
The Panthers have moved to the OCC-Cardinal.
The returning starters are seniors Kristen Chance (outside hitter/right-side hitter), Emily Krumpe (outside hitter/right-side hitter) and Bri Moorman (outside hitter) and junior Ellie Mathews (defensive specialist/libero). Other returning letterwinners are senior Joran Alexander (right-side hitter) and sophomores Gabby Adrian (setter) and Maddie Platfoot (outside hitter).
Rounding out the roster are senior Emma Schaefer (right-side hitter/middle hitter) and juniors Maura Culley (defensive specialist), Katie Moore (right-side hitter) and Caitlin Snyder (middle hitter).
"This group of girls is very hard-working, supportive of one another, and they really get along," said third-year coach Liz Rundio, whose team was 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Kilbourne on Sept. 4. "They all have the same goal in mind, and that is to be better than last year."
Darby opened with a 25-17, 26-24, 25-27, 25-15 loss to Westerville North in an OCC-Cardinal match Aug. 28 before falling to Jerome 23-25, 25-19, 25-17, 26-24 in a league match Aug. 30.
The Panthers then lost to Davidson (25-16, 18-25, 25-20), Delaware (23-25, 25-16, 25-22) and Newark (25-19, 25-19) in the Sharon Huesman Memorial quad-match Sept. 1.
"My only concern is that this group of girls doesn't know what it feels like to win," Rundio said. "They have won only a handful of matches over the past couple of years. I believe once they know what winning feels like, we should have a great season."