For the second time in the program's four seasons, the Hilliard Bradley High School girls volleyball team reached a district final.
Seeded fifth, the Jaguars lost to top-seeded Dublin Coffman 23-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-21 in a Division I district final Oct. 27 at Big Walnut to finish 21-5. In 2010, they lost to Hartley 25-13, 25-16, 25-22 in a Division II district final.
"(Playing in a district final) is an expectation," coach RyAnne Ufferman said. "We have a lot of respect for the Coffman program. We want Bradley volleyball to be that way."
The Jaguars won the opening game before Coffman took control.
"I think we came out with a lot of enthusiasm and we made good choices with the ball," Ufferman said. "We were attacking the ball and not waiting for the ball to come to us. We lost that after the first game and we let Coffman take control. You can't do that with a team like they have."
Leading the way for Bradley were Christy Tieman, who was 13-for-13 serving with 21 assists, nine digs, six kills, two blocks and one ace, and Jennifer Espenschied, who was 29 of 35 on serve-receive with 25 digs.
Also for the Jaguars, Darby Connors was 19-for-19 hitting with nine kills and two blocks, Raimey Benson was 14-for-15 serving with one ace, 14 digs and six kills, Lexi Jacobs was 10-for-11 serving with one ace, six kills and two block assists and Karlee Hehemenn was 7-for-7 hitting with three kills, two solo blocks and two block assists.
"This match was really good preparation for (our regional semifinal match with Massillon) Jackson (on Thursday, Nov. 1, at Davidson)," Coffman coach Mary Anne Souder said. "They played great defense, just like we will see (against Jackson). (Bradley's) serve-receive was tough. We usually score a lot on our serves and we didn't do that."
The Jaguars defeated seventh-seeded Olentangy 23-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-18 in a district semifinal Oct. 24 at Big Walnut.
Darby finished 8-16 overall after losing to second-seeded Pickerington North 25-15, 25-13, 25-10 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 17.
Seeded 22nd, the Panthers opened district play by defeating Westerville South 25-14, 25-10, 20-25, 25-17 on Oct. 15.
Darby went 9-5 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to tie Dublin Jerome and Westerville North for fourth, behind Westerville Central (14-0), Bradley (11-3) and Worthington Kilbourne (9-5) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (4-10) and Westerville South (3-11).
Last season, Darby finished 2-20 overall.
The Panthers lose five seniors in Jordan Alexander (right-side hitter), Kristen Chance (middle hitter), Emily Krumpe (outside hitter), Bri Moorman (defensive specialist) and Emma Schaefer (middle hitter).
Krumpe was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
"The seniors will be truly missed on and off the court," said coach Liz Rundio, who completed her third season leading the program. "They were true leaders and showed the younger girls what it means to be a team. Each one of them brought something different to the team, whether it was being a vocal leader, quiet leader or leading by example."
Expected to return are juniors Maura Culley (defensive specialist), Ellie Mathews (defensive specialist/libero), Katie Moore (right-side hitter/outside hitter) and Caitlin Snyder (middle hitter) and sophomores Gabby Adrian (setter), Emily Davis (defensive specialist), Maddie Platfoot (outside hitter) and Sarah Schroeder (setter).
Mathews was honorable mention all-district and all-league.
"The girls expected back next year will have varsity experience and they know what it will take to be competitive," Rundio said. "They need to commit to improving in all facets of the game, which includes strength and conditioning."