Hilliard Northwest News

Girls Volleyball

Inconsistent play catches up to Jaguars

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Inconsistent play caught up with the Hilliard Bradley High School girls volleyball team in the postseason.

Seeded third, the Jaguars lost to 15th-seeded Gahanna 25-19, 20-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-13 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 24 at Whitehall to finish 19-6 overall. The match lasted 1 hour, 53 minutes.

"We played a lot like we had all season," coach RyAnne Ufferman said. "We played up and down, but it was still a good match. Gahanna is very athletic and they did a good job of getting up and blocking."

The Jaguars defeated 43rd-seeded Walnut Ridge 25-9, 25-4, 25-8 in the first round Oct. 15 and 45th-seeded Dublin Jerome 25-9, 25-9, 25-11 in the second round Oct. 17

Bradley went 12-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to tie Westerville Central for the league title. Dublin Scioto (11-3) was third, followed by Westerville North (9-5), Canal Winchester (6-8), Darby and Westerville South (both 3-11) and Jerome (0-14).

The Jaguars lose three seniors in four-year starters Jen Espenschied (libero) and Christy Tieman (setter) and three-year starter Lexi Jacobs (outside hitter).

"You can't say enough about these seniors," said Ufferman, who was named OCC-Cardinal Coach of the Year. "They have so much experience and were such great leaders. Lexi really finished the season strong, and Jen and Christy hustled all the time and were two great high school players."

Espenschied, who has committed to Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., was named OCC-Cardinal Player of the Year and first-team all-district, finishing with 316 digs and 53 aces. Tieman had 642 assists and 123 digs and was second-team all-district and first-team all-league and Jacobs had 160 kills, 86 digs and 36 aces.

Expected to return are juniors Raimey Benson (outside hitter), Darby Connors (middle hitter), Kaylee Ewen (defensive specialist) and Meredith Miller (outside hitter), sophomores Maggie Adams (outside hitter), Emily Collins (defensive specialist), Alexis Crosby (setter/outside hitter), Nikki Ewen (defensive specialist), Haylie Phillips (outside hitter) and McKenna Warner (outside hitter) and freshmen Aidan Johnson (defensive specialist) and Sara Oates (middle hitter).

Miller had 212 digs and 207 kills and was honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league. Connors had 189 kills and 90 blocks and was second-team all-league, and Benson had 188 kills and was honorable mention all-league.

"We have a program that is five years old and it's amazing how far we have come in five years," Ufferman said. "Our hitters are all coming back, but we have a lot of work ahead and will be looking to filling spots at libero and setter."

Young Wildcats gained experience

Davidson finished 19-6 overall after losing to seventh-seeded Lancaster 25-20, 17-25, 25-15, 25-21 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 24 at Whitehall.

Seeded ninth, the Wildcats beat 24th-seeded Newark 24-26, 25-16, 25-16, 25-21 in the first round Oct. 15 and 18th-seeded Watterson 25-18, 25-17, 25-20 in the second round Oct. 17 before falling to the Golden Gales.

"We played hard at times, but (Lancaster was) an experienced team," coach Betty Cameron said. "They had (six) seniors and we had one. It was a good learning experience for us."

Davidson finished second in the OCC-Central at 12-2, behind Dublin Coffman (14-0) and ahead of Olentangy Liberty (10-4), Marysville (7-7), Thomas Worthington (6-8), Westland (5-9) and Central Crossing and Upper Arlington (both 1-13).

The only senior on the Wildcats' roster is defensive specialist Kaitlyn Hocutt.

Freshman middle/outside hitter Kendyl Paris finished with 298 kills and was first-team all-district and all-league and junior setter Meghan Munson had 814 assists and 186 digs and was second-team all-district and first-team all-league.

Junior outside hitter Olivia Canestraro had 203 kills and 261 digs and was second-team all-league, junior outside hitter Meghan Murphy had 163 kills and 126 digs and was special mention all-league and junior middle hitter Anne Schroeder had 171 kills and was honorable mention all-league.

Also expected back are juniors Katie Fugitt (opposite hitter), Maddie Griffin (setter) and Ally Litzinger (defensive specialist), sophomores Emily Landenberger (opposite hitter), Ryann Potter (opposite/middle hitter) and Jayda Winston (outside hitter) and freshman Ari Sherzai (defensive specialist).

Sherzai finished with 328 digs.

"We had a good season overall. We played well," Cameron said. "We have a lot of people expected back, so things are looking good."

Panthers coach likes prospects for 2014

Darby lost to 11th-seeded Liberty 18-25, 8-25, 25-23, 26-24, 15-13 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 23 at Whitehall to finish 10-14 overall.

Seeded 22nd, the Panthers advanced to a semifinal for the first time since 2004 by beating 19th-seeded Marysville 17-25, 25-20, 25-18, 21-25, 15-10 in the first round Oct. 14 and 14th-seeded Westerville North 25-21, 25-14, 24-26, 24-26, 15-8 in the second round Oct. 16.

"It's tough to lose this way (in five games), but the kids played really well (against Liberty)," coach Liz Rundio said. "The seniors really played well for us down the stretch."

The Panthers, who tied Westerville South for sixth in the OCC-Cardinal, lose three seniors in Ellie Mathews (libero), Katie Moore (outside/right-side hitter) and Caitlyn Snyder (middle hitter).

Mathews had 455 digs and 27 aces during the regular season and was second-team all-district and first-team all-league, Snyder had 96 kills and was honorable mention all-league and Moore had 96 kills and 192 digs.

Among the expected returnees is junior setter/right-side hitter Gabby Adrian, who had 204 kills and 216 digs and was second-team all-league.

Also expected back are juniors Emily Davis (defensive specialist), Claire O'Toole (outside/right-side hitter), Maddie Platfoot (outside/right-side hitter) and Sarah Schroeder (setter/defensive specialist), sophomores Trynn Fanfulik (outside/right-side hitter), Maddie Kucinic (outside/right-side hitter), Elizabeth Lake (middle hitter) and Lyric Melendez (middle hitter) and freshman Kali Apelt (setter/right-side hitter).

During the regular season, Platfoot had 129 kills and Davis had 28 aces.

"This gives us great confidence as a team and can only help us going into next season," Rundio said. "Now they know what they have to do to get here."