Panthers reach first district semifinal since 2004
The Hilliard Darby High School girls volleyball team upset 14th-seeded and host Westerville North 25-21, 25-14, 24-26, 24-26, 15-8 on Oct. 16 to advance to a Division I district semifinal for the first time since 2004.
The 22nd-seeded Panthers were 10-13 before playing 11th-seeded Olentangy Liberty in a district semifinal Oct. 23.
"Our seniors really led us against Westerville North with their experience and play," coach Liz Rundio said. "All of the girls have been playing well, especially (senior libero) Ellie Mathews, (senior outside hitter) Katie Moore, (senior middle hitter) Caitlin Snyder and (junior outside hitter) Gabby Adrian."
The semifinal winner plays top-seeded DeSales or 28th-seeded Central Crossing in a district final Saturday, Oct. 26, at Whitehall.
Darby, which defeated 19th-seeded Marysville 17-25, 25-20, 25-18, 21-25, 15-10 in the first round Oct. 14 before beating Westerville North in the second round, last reached a district final in 2002. It won its only district championship in 1998.
The district champion will face Grove City, New Albany, Westerville Central or Worthington Kilbourne in a regional semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Davidson. The regional final is Nov. 2 at Davidson.
The Panthers lost twice to Westerville Central in OCC-Cardinal Division play this season, falling 25-17, 11-25, 25-14, 25-19 on Sept. 12 and 25-22, 25-12, 25-14 on Oct. 8.
Bradley, Davidson could meet in final
Third-seeded Bradley and ninth-seeded Davidson play Thursday, Oct. 24, in separate Division I district semifinal matches at Whitehall. If both win, they would meet in a district final Saturday, Oct. 26, at Whitehall.
The Jaguars and Wildcats have yet to face each other this season.
Bradley is 20-4 entering its semifinal match against 15th-seeded Gahanna. The Jaguars defeated 45th-seeded Dublin Jerome 25-9, 25-9, 25-11 in the second round Oct. 17 after beating 43rd-seeded Walnut Ridge 25-9, 25-4, 25-8 in the first round Oct. 15.
Bradley lost to Gahanna 25-19, 25-20 on Sept. 14.
Among the leaders for the Jaguars in their two postseason matches were senior libero Jen Espenschied (22 digs, 11 aces), senior outside hitter Lexi Jacobs (13 kills, 9 digs, 7 aces), junior outside hitters Raimey Benson (18 kills) and Meredith Miller (14 kills), junior middle hitter Darby Connors (14 kills, 8 blocks) and senior setter Christy Tieman (58 assists).
Davidson is 19-5 entering its semifinal match against seventh-seeded Lancaster. The Wildcats defeated 18th-seeded Watterson 25-18, 25-17, 25-20 in the second round Oct. 17 after beating 24th-seeded Newark 24-26, 25-16, 25-16, 25-21 in the first round Oct. 15.
Davidson did not play Lancaster during the regular season.
Among the Wildcats' leaders in their two postseason matches were freshman middle/outside hitter Kendyl Paris (30 kills), junior outside hitters Olivia Canestraro (18 kills, 27 digs) and Meghan Murphy (16 kills, 26 digs), junior middle hitter Anne Schroeder (14 kills), freshman defensive specialist Ari Sherzai (46 digs) and junior defensive specialist All Litzinger (24 digs).
Davidson did not play Bradley's semifinal opponent, Gahanna, during the regular season, but Bradley did face Davidson's semifinal opponent, Lancaster, winning 25-22, 25-19 on Aug. 24 in the Lancaster Sharon Wohrer Invitational.
The district champion will face Canal Winchester, Dublin Coffman, Dublin Scioto or Olentangy in a regional semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Davidson.
Bradley swept Canal Winchester in OCC-Cardinal play, winning 23-25, 25-17, 25-13, 25-14 on Sept. 4 and 25-15, 27-25, 25-16 on Oct. 1, but lost both league matches to Scioto, falling 25-17, 25-22, 17-25, 16-25, 15-12 on Sept. 12 and 25-22, 25-11, 16-25, 28-26 on Oct. 8.
Davidson was swept by Coffman in OCC-Central play, losing 25-27, 25-23, 25-17, 17-25, 15-8 on Aug. 27 and 25-16, 25-11, 26-24 on Sept. 19.