DeSales High School boys volleyball coach Andy Feltz chuckled when it was pointed out that his team was among the first in central Ohio this season that could call itself a league champion.
The Stallions earned their share of the CCL title with a 25-19, 25-21, 25-22 win over St. Charles on April 15, but almost immediately turned their attention to other goals.
DeSales has not played since that match because of spring break.
"Our goal was to win the CCL, and sharing it (with Watterson) was not something we're all that excited about," said Feltz, whose team is 10-4 overall and finished 3-1 in the CCL. "We had a long sit-down with each kid (April 15) and we decided we were ready to move beyond the CCL and figure out what, as a squad, we need to do to get ready for the postseason. Watterson and Mount Vernon are both really, really good in our region, and our ultimate goal is to get back to the final four. We talked about how we have some great players and our chemistry and communication on the court need to get better."
DeSales reached a Division II state semifinal last year before losing to eventual state champion Middletown Fenwick 25-22, 25-10, 25-20.
"We expect to be in the same position we were last year, if not better," senior setter Keegan Crawford said.
DeSales prevented Watterson from winning the outright CCL title by defeating the Eagles 25-13, 25-20, 25-14 on April 10. The Stallions had lost to Watterson 22-25, 24-26, 29-27, 25-23, 15-13 nine days earlier.
St. Charles, the only other team in the three-team CCL, finished 0-4 in league play. Hartley and Ready do not have boys volleyball programs.
DeSales also played Watterson in the Buckeye Classic on April 13 in Urbana, losing 25-22, 27-25. The Stallions had 11 passing errors in the first game that erased their 18-10 lead.
"Passing gets us to the point where we play really well, but when that's off, we don't do well," said Crawford, a setter who also sees considerable time in the front row. "We were winning 18-10 and our passing started getting really bad and we lost. It was not pretty. We can't have those kinds of letdowns."
DeSales has thrived with its height. In addition to 6-foot-3 outside hitter Evan Feltz, middle hitter Luke Melsop (6-5) and right-side hitter Josh Moyler (6-4), coach Feltz has rotated Trent Hopson and Chris Modie -- both of whom are 6-2 -- on the right side.
Evan Feltz has 195 kills, 31 aces and 23 blocks, Crawford has 313 assists, Jordy Brooks has 113 digs and Melsop 75 kills and 25 blocks.
The Stallions' season resumes in earnest after spring break, with three matches in two days in the Louisville Showcase in Kentucky. DeSales will play Louisville (Ky.) St. Xavier on Friday, April 25, and both Louisville Trinity and St. Bernard Roger Bacon on Saturday, April 26.
"The last few months have been hard with practice every day and (at least) three (matches) a week.," Evan Feltz said. "It's a different level of trying to keep your body healthy and it's good for us to have a break. You have to ice every single day and keep stretching continuously and hydrating. If you miss a day, you'll fall behind. It's a good time for us to rest, refocus and come back in the gym with new energy."
Softball team trying to build momentum
When it has been able to take the field this season, the softball team usually has performed well.
DeSales was 3-2 overall before playing Olentangy on April 22 and is 1-0 in the CCL.
Games against Jonathan Alder (April 2) and Big Walnut (April 15) have been postponed indefinitely and a home game against Perrysburg on March 31 was changed to a scrimmage because of poor field conditions. In addition, the Stallions' season opener March 29 at Granville was called after one inning because of bad weather.
"It's been insane, but very interesting," coach Julie Barber said. "There's been some chaos and pressure, but the girls have come through, and not always how I've envisioned."
DeSales defeated host Ready 8-5 in its CCL opener April 16, as Leah Roten hit a grand slam in the fifth inning and Cameron Barber added another in the seventh.
Kristine Byrum hit two home runs in a 10-6 win over Grove City on April 5, and according to coach Barber, leadoff hitter Taylor Freeman entered the week with a batting average above .500.
Cameron Barber and Emily Piatt have shared the pitching duties.
"They complement each other. They have different styles and move the ball in different directions," coach Barber said. "They both have ways of throwing batters off."
Another challenge facing the Stallions is a home field that has been unplayable because of bad weather during the winter. A scheduled home game against Watterson on April 14, a day on which most area games were rained out, was postponed to April 23 at Ridgeview Middle School.
According to Barber, DeSales will be unable to play any home games for at least the rest of April.
Track teams hitting crux of schedule
Track and field coach Ben McGinnis chuckled when asked if his teams' schedule contained a misprint.
The Stallions will compete in two events Wednesday, April 30, with some athletes heading to a dual at Dublin Jerome and the rest competing in the Braves Invitational at Whetstone.
"Yep, they're the same day, and that's something we haven't always done before," McGinnis said. "Our younger athletes make up a lot of our program and I don't want to ignore them. I want them to get as much competition as possible. We have to build our future and, by going to both meets, that's that many more kids who will be in action."
In the 16-team Stingel Invitational on April 12 at Pickerington North, Andrew Sparks placed third in the long jump (20 feet, 11 1/2 inches) and the 400-meter relay finished fifth (44.93 seconds) to lead the boys team, which scored 16 points to place 14th behind champion North (114).
The girls team finished 15th (1) in the 15-team Stingel Invitational behind champion Gahanna (134). Its best finish came in the 400 relay (eighth, 54.07).