Volleyball team starts strong
Members of the DeSales High School girls volleyball team are motivated this season by the perception that they aren’t being viewed as a serious contender for the CCL championship despite the return of four key players from a year ago.
The Stallions were 6-0 before opening league play Sept. 11 against defending CCL and Division II state champion Hartley.
DeSales returned seniors Erika Brown (5-foot-11, outside hitter) and Bella Guanciale (libero) and juniors Kenya Cason (5-11, middle hitter) and Kendall Witt (5-9, right-side hitter) from last season, when it finished 23-3 and reached a Division II regional final before losing to Mansfield Madison 25-22, 25-22, 18-25, 26-24.
Last year, Guanciale was named first-team all-district and Brown and Cason were second-team.
“We have talked about (wining the CCL title),” said coach Kelly Morgan, whose team went 6-2 in the CCL last year to place second to Hartley (7-1). “It is extremely important to the players for a couple reasons. The CCL is one of the toughest leagues in central Ohio and being a part of these matches are great memories to share for life.
“We are doubted by many people and the girls would like to take that doubt and turn it into a competitive fire fueling our team.”
Last season, DeSales split its two matches against Hartley, which went 24-5 and became the first team from central Ohio to win a Division II state title since DeSales in 1982.
“Yes, the players and coaches do (foresee this being a special season),” Morgan said. “This season is about believing in us. So many people doubt what the capabilities of this team are, but we use that to our advantage.”
The Stallions opened Aug. 25, defeating Reynoldsburg 25-9, 25-16 and Teays Valley 25-7, 25-2. They then beat Shekinah Christian (25-15, 25-14, 24-26, 23-25, 15-12 on Aug. 28), Middletown Fenwick (25-13, 25-17, 25-19 on Sept. 1), Jonathan Alder (25-18, 25-16, 25-15 on Sept. 4) and Olentangy (25-17, 25-15, 25-17 on Sept. 8).
Against Reynoldsburg, Brown had seven aces and four kills, Emily Durbin had three kills, two block assists and one solo block, Abby Julian had six assists and Guanciale had eight digs.
Against Teays Valley, Julia Brown had five aces and 10 assists, Erika Brown had seven kills, Kendall Witt had five kills and Guanciale had 10 digs.
Kenya Cason (6 aces, 13 kills, 3 block assists), Erika Brown (21 kills, 11 digs), Julian (11 assists, 12 digs) and Guanciale (24 digs) led the way against Shekinah Christian, and Cason (7 aces, 9 kills), Erika Brown (13 kills), Guanciale (16 digs) and Julia Brown (10 assists) led the way against Fenwick.
“Everyone has stepped up (thus far),” Morgan said. “Our hitters have done their part to put balls down on our opponent’s side. Our setters are attempting to run a faster tempo offense. Our front line has stepped up their defensive play at the net. Bella Guanciale has been the heart of our passing thus far, and our team energy has been a positive in our play, especially in rally situations.
“We have stepped up our play from the preseason. We are making goals to progress each (match) not only as a unit, but individually also.”
Despite the strong start, Morgan sees room for improvement.
“We are improving step by step each day as a unit and individually,” she said. “We need to work on playing consistent and playing poised under pressure. With this also comes keeping positive attitudes in challenging times.
“We’ve been inconsistent with our communication and that is also something we are working on improving each day, along with trying to become more cohesive as a team.”
Tennis team fares well in tourney
The girls tennis team tied host Reynoldsburg for first place in the eight-team Raider Doubles Invitational on Sept. 8.
DeSales and Reynoldsburg both totaled 24 points, as Gahanna (20) placed third. My Linh Li and Sarah Shockling, the Stallions’ top two singles players, won the top bracket and Lauren Asman and Maddie Lyons won the third bracket. Typically, Asman plays third singles and Lyons plays second doubles.
“The girls are pretty excited about this because we finished third last year,” coach Anthony Tienprasid said. “It was a good day for us. Everyone looked pretty good.”
Izzy Ocampo and Chandler Starkey placed third in the second bracket, and Bri Ellis and Taylor Gray, who play the top two singles positions on the junior varsity team, finished fifth in the fourth bracket.
“It gives us a little boost,” Tienprasid said. “Now we can get back to work and get ready for the rest of the season.”
Football team looks to rebound from loss
The football team struggled on special teams and stopping the run in a 56-22 loss to New Albany on Sept. 7 to fall to 1-2.
New Albany, which improved to 1-2, rushed for 300 yards and six touchdowns on 26 carries for an 11.5-yard average. The Eagles led 21-7 at halftime and scored three third-quarter touchdowns to take control of the game.
The Stallions were outgained by just 25 total yards, as quarterback Alex Perrine rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and running back J.T. Blubaugh had 91 yards and one score on 19 carries.
DeSales also had 19 first downs compared to 10 for New Albany, but the Eagles had seven of their eight touchdowns go for at least 19 yards.
New Albany returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the first quarter.
DeSales plays host to Union (Ky.) Ryle on Friday, Sept. 14. Last season, the Stallions beat the Raiders 42-7 as 2012 graduate Warren Ball rushed for 130 yards and five touchdowns.