Even with a Division II district championship and runner-up finishes at the district and regional levels the past two years, the DeSales High School girls volleyball team didn't consider its resume to be complete.
Missing from its list of accomplishments in 2010 and 2011 was a CCL championship.
The Stallions went 7-1 in the CCL this year and captured their first league title since 2004. However, they needed help from their biggest rival to win the championship outright, and Watterson obliged by upending defending state champion Hartley 17-25, 23-25, 25-21, 29-27, 15-7 on Oct. 11.
Hartley handed DeSales its only league loss this year, defeating the Stallions 25-12, 19-25, 25-20, 25-22 on Sept. 27. The Stallions won their first-round league meeting with the Hawks 25-19, 23-25, 26-24, 25-22 on Sept. 11.
Hartley finished second in the CCL at 6-2, followed by Watterson (4-4), Ready (3-5) and Columbus School for Girls (0-8).
"We're young. I have two seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen," coach Kelly Morgan said. "Then, add the junior varsity players (on the postseason roster) and we have four more sophomores. On my bench, I had four kids who have been in the spot we were last year (and know) what it feels like to win districts and go on to regionals. That work ethic has rubbed off."
DeSales was a district runner-up in 2010, losing 25-15, 26-24, 25-16 to Big Walnut in a district final, and won a district championship and reached a regional final last year before losing to Mansfield Madison 25-22, 25-22, 18-25, 26-24. The Stallions went 6-2 in the CCL last season to place second to Hartley (7-1).
"We came into this year without people expecting much from us, but we proved a lot of people wrong," senior libero Bella Guanciale said, referring to the loss of six players from a year ago to graduation. "I think we really mesh. Last year's team had a ton of heart. This year's team is a little more athletic and volleyball-smart."
The Stallions earned the No. 1 seed in the district and opened the tournament Oct. 16 against Mifflin in the first round. That winner plays 12th-seeded Sparta Highland or Brookhaven in the second round at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at the higher seed. The second-round winner faces seventh-seeded Buckeye Valley, Columbus East or Columbus South in a district semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Worthington Christian Middle School.
"That's my goal. I want to get to that district final match right now," senior outside hitter Erika Brown said. "It'll be a really tough match and, whoever comes out with the win, I think has a straight shot to state. It might not be who the better team is, but who shows up to play."
Li returns to state tennis tourney
My Linh Li of the girls tennis team earned her third trip to the Division II state tournament, as the senior went 3-0 in singles in the district tournament held Oct. 12 and 13 at Hilliard Davidson, defeating Hartley's Rachel Morales 7-5, 6-3, in the championship match.
Li had lost her previous three matches against Morales.
"It was a big win (for Li)," coach Anthony Tienprasid said. "It's big because that will improve My Linh's seeding at state, too, but My Linh hadn't really had that big signature win yet this year. This was it. It's a huge confidence boost."
Li won the state doubles title as a freshman in 2009 with her older sister, Kim My Li, and finished third at state in singles last year. She lost in a semifinal to Millersburg West Holmes' Rachel Nelson 6-1, 6-3 but rebounded with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over Cincinnati Country Day's Danielle Wolf in the consolation match.
The state tournament will be held Friday, Oct. 19, at Ohio State and Saturday, Oct. 20, at Davidson.
Also competing at district for the Stallions was senior Sarah Schockling, who lost to Columbus Academy's Katherine Guan, 6-1, 6-3 in the first round.
Cross country teams fare well in CCL meet
Andrea Coffey, Kristin Faulkner and Michelle Seiffert helped lead the girls cross country team to a second-place finish in the CCL meet Oct. 13 at Westerville Recreation Center.
The Stallions scored 53 points to finish behind Watterson (49) and ahead of CSG (75), Ready (76) and Hartley (90).
Coffey finished third in 20 minutes, 51.3 seconds. Faulkner was fourth (20:57.1), followed by Seiffert (eighth, 21:28.8), Jenna Melvin (18th, 22:36.6), Kara Hoying (20th, 22:58.7), Eliza Cargin (29th, 24:13) and Bailey Cadena (33rd, 24:55.7).
The boys team scored 68 points in the CCL meet to place third behind St. Charles (19) and Watterson (56) and ahead of Ready (116) and Hartley (120).
Ian Lawson led the Stallions, placing fifth in 17:29.9. Creighton Barrett was 13th (18:03), followed by Dylan Griffin (15th, 18:12.3), Thomas Gorman (16th, 18:20.6), Anthony Hayes (19th, 18:59.5) and Jake Eubanks (31st, 21:28.2).
On Saturday, Oct. 20, at Watkins Memorial, the boys team will compete in the Division II, district 1 meet and the girls team will compete in the Division I, district 2 meet. The top five teams and top 20 individuals in the boys race and the top four teams and top 16 individuals in the girls race advance to the regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.
Football team falls to Watterson
The football team lost 24-21 to host Watterson in triple overtime Oct. 12 to drop to 4-4 overall and finish 1-1 in the CCL-Silver Division.
Watterson would clinch the league title with a win over St. Charles on Friday, Oct. 19. If St. Charles wins, the three teams would share the championship.
DeSales' playoff hopes in Division III, Region 10 remain alive as it plays host to Cincinnati LaSalle on Friday, Oct. 19, and closes the regular season Oct. 26 at Charleston (W.Va.) George Washington. LaSalle is 4-4 and George Washington is 6-1.
Last season, the Stallions defeated LaSalle 52-7 on the way to making the playoffs for the 18th consecutive season.
LaSalle has lost three in a row since beating Watterson 35-16 on Sept. 21. Quarterback Brad Burkhart is 103-for-194 passing for 1,264 yards and nine touchdowns. His primary target is wide receiver Derek Kief, who has 47 receptions for 696 yards and five touchdowns, and running back Morgan Willcox is LaSalle's leading rusher with 304 yards and five scores.
DeSales led Watterson 7-0 through three quarters but gave up a 2-yard touchdown run by DeAndre Golden with 4:41 left to send the game to overtime.
The Stallions' Tyler West and J.T. Blubaugh both scored on 9-yard runs during the first two overtimes, but Watterson's Michael Harper made a 21-yard field goal in the third overtime for the win.
"I feel like we had one or two missed opportunities," coach Ryan Wiggins said.