The approach to the postseason is a little different this season from last season for the Licking Heights High School girls volleyball team.
The Hornets won MSL-Cardinal Division championships both seasons. But after losing 25-16, 26-24, 25-17 to Utica in the first round last year, eighth-seeded Licking Heights defeated London 25-12, 25-15, 25-17 in its Division II tournament opener Oct. 16.
"We seemed a little content last year after winning the MSL championship and one girl even said that we had achieved our goal for the season," coach Amanda Mosely said. "In our practices, we had girls laughing and goofing around and not staying focused. We went out and lost our first (tournament) match and got our butts kicked."
It was quite the opposite this season.
"The girls remembered how they felt last year," Mosely said. "The seniors told everyone they had to practice hard because they wanted to go out and win. Plus, we didn't play well in the Pickerington North tournament (Oct. 13). We went 0-3 because everyone was thinking about homecoming that night. So we came out and had a very, very good practice (before the London match)."
Against London, C.J. Wulf had 23 assists and eight aces and was 24-for-25 serving. Jemiah Powell had 12 kills, Katie Kenney had five and Bailey Carr had five. Mercedesz Mate had 18 digs. Carr also had three aces and was 18-for-18 serving.
The Hornets didn't stop with a first-round win, as they breezed past Linden-McKinley 25-1, 25-9, 25-7 in the second round Oct. 18.
Licking Heights will play second-seeded Hartley in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Worthington Christian Middle School. The district final is 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Worthington Christian Middle School against top-seeded DeSales, seventh-seeded Buckeye Valley or Columbus South.
Despite going 14-0 to win their second consecutive league title in their last season in the MSL-Cardinal, Powell was the lone Hornets player to make first-team all-league. Mate and Kenney were on the second team and Wulf was honorable mention.
Boys soccer team earns milestone win
The boys soccer team earned its first postseason victory in its 11th season as a program when it defeated visiting Jonathan Alder 1-0 on Oct. 16 in the first round of the Division II district tournament.
"That was a great win for us," first-year coach Zach Grubb said as the players had team pictures taken during the postgame celebration. "Everyone tells us this was it, the first tournament win."
The 10th-seeded Hornets then defeated eighth-seeded Beech-croft 3-0 in the second round Oct. 18. Zach Phillips scored on a free kick, Tesfu Reda scored on a penalty kick and Abdul Mohamud also had a goal.
Licking Heights will play at second-seeded Watterson in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 23. The winner plays seventh-seeded Big Walnut or ninth-seeded Granville in a district final at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Westerville Central.
Against 12th-seeded Jonathan Alder, Beven Chifamba scored with 29 minutes, 49 seconds remaining as he found the ball at his feet after Caleb Smith's shot was knocked away by Pioneers goalkeeper Justin Byers.
"Beven had a rough shot at the end of the first half that he felt he should've scored on and was upset at halftime," Grubb said. "I told him to shake it off and that he'd finish one off later in the game. Fortunately, that's exactly what happened."
Abdi Fatah had nine saves, including five after the Hornets took the lead.
"Abdi played real well; he was a beast out there," Grubb said.
"He made a few huge saves when our defense had a couple mistouches and put the ball up in the air. He really came through for us."
Football team hopes to 'close the deal'
The football team's first win over West Jefferson -- 36-16 on Oct. 12 -- had the Hornets in good shape to win their first MSL-Cardinal championship and earn a berth in the Division II, Region 7 playoffs.
The Hornets were 8-0 overall and 5-0 in league play before playing Berne Union on Oct. 19.
They will close the regular season Friday, Oct. 26, as host to Fisher Catholic.
"We're in a good position, but we still have to close the deal," coach Darren Waters said. "We didn't play particularly well (against West Jefferson). We still have a lot of things we need to work on. We need to stay focused and play our best football of the season beginning right now."
The Hornets were third in the Region 7 computer ratings through eight weeks. The top eight teams in each region qualify for the postseason.
Fisher Catholic was 2-6 overall and 1-4 in the league before playing winless Millersport on Oct. 19, but it had won just once on the field -- 35-26 against Berne Union on Sept. 14. Fisher Catholic was credited with a second win, a forfeit, because Tuscarawas Central Catholic used an ineligible player during the opener Aug. 25 en route to a 51-29 victory.
The forfeit was announced Oct. 13, but Tuscarawas Central Catholic is appealing.
Fisher Catholic is led by senior running back Derrick Schneider, who rushed for a school record 355 yards against Berne Union and was closing in on 2,000 this season.
Against West Jefferson, the Hornets trailed 10-7 at halftime, but a 12-yard scoring run by Josh Ausberry and a 27-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Curtiss to Doug Benniefield gave them a 21-10 lead. It was 21-16 when Ausberry's 2-yard run with 4:56 left gave the hosts some breathing room, and Benniefield sealed the outcome a few plays later with a 30-yard interception return for the final score.
Cross country teams finish 4th in league
The boys and girls cross country teams competed in Division II district meets Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial.
The boys competed in district 1, and there was one district race for the girls.
In both races the top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to the regional Saturday, Oct. 27, at Pickerington North.
Briana Konich was fifth (21 minutes, 37.6 seconds) to lead the girls team to a fourth-place finish in the MSL-Cardinal meet Oct. 13 at Liberty Union Middle School.
Konich was followed by PyLynne Myers (17th, 23:42.2), Kacie Solages (19th, 23:55), Audrey Duke (20th, 24:08.9) and Mackenzie Myers (21st, 24:14.7).
The Hornets scored 82 points to finish behind champion Grandview (28), Fisher Catholic (75) and Liberty Union (81) and ahead of Berne Union (96) and Millersport (116).
The boys team finished fourth (93) at the league meet behind Liberty Union (29), Grandview (34) and Fisher Catholic (74) and ahead of Millersport (130).
Scoring for Licking Heights were Tysson Olverson (12th, 18:29.8), Vince Masoni (16th, 18:46.8), Brandon Haist (17th, 18:47.3), Andrew Sellitto (21st, 19:38) and Anthony Haist (27th, 20:30.5).