Standing 5-foot-5 and in her second season as the starting libero for the Hartley High School girls volleyball team, Lauren Hurley isn't ashamed to admit that she "gave up on the offensive dream" shortly after joining the program as a freshman.

Standing 5-foot-5 and in her second season as the starting libero for the Hartley High School girls volleyball team, Lauren Hurley isn't ashamed to admit that she "gave up on the offensive dream" shortly after joining the program as a freshman.

It's what being a "pest," as she called it, is all about.

Although the Hawks have a talented 6-footer leading their offense in junior Brooke Betts, they were ranked second in last week's Division II state poll mostly because of their defense.

It's been a trademark that spans the last several years, according to coach Max Miller.

"Kind of the signature of our team has been serve-receive and defense, and just focusing on sideout scoring," Miller said. "Even back in 2007 when we were state runners-up, the majority of the teams we played were taller than us. We take a lot of pride in our ball control."

Hurley learned early in her prep career that she could best serve Hartley by playing standout defense. She played in a defensive specialist role as a sophomore before settling in at libero last year.

Among the team's eight seniors, she - as well as Emily Bommer, Lauryn Otto and Samantha Tallman - focuses primarily on defense.

Hurley enjoys being among the players who help set the tone with their defense.

"It's kind of understood that defense is not just the responsibility of our defensive specialists," Hurley said. "It's everybody's responsibility. Every time there's a serve-receive, I play my best, and I especially try to play my best at the beginning of a (game) to help set the tone. I just want to try to aggravate the other team and make them make errors."

The Hawks, according to Miller, also have used a grind-it-out attitude when it comes to their schedule.

Hartley beat Ready 25-16, 25-13, 23-25, 14-25, 16-14 on Sept. 8 despite missing 17 serves during the final three games. It also beat Cincinnati McNicholas 25-22, 25-23 on Sept. 10 and DeSales 25-18, 25-18, 23-25, 25-19 on Sept. 13. Those teams were ranked Nos. 5 and 6, respectively, in last week's state poll.

"We've got the toughest schedule in our part of the state and probably one of the top 10 schedules in the entire state," Miller said. "We've got very few matches that the kids can take off."

•The girls soccer team's hopes of winning the CCL took a hit when it lost to DeSales 2-1 on Sept. 20, but some of its other goals remain.

The Hawks were fourth in last week's Division II area coaches poll behind DeSales, Jonathan Alder and Granville while Bexley, Bloom-Carroll and Big Walnut rounded out the top seven.

Hartley still has time to improve its record before the district tournament draw Oct. 9.

"I think we're making great progress," coach Scott Dempsey said. "We played DeSales, which is ranked (sixth) in the (Division II) state (poll) and we did a pretty good job of holding our own. One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to compete for the CCL championship and that doesn't look too promising at this point, but our job now is to refocus and establish new goals for the second half of the season. We're going to take the second half of the season as an opportunity to show how far we've progressed."

Hartley's four captains - seniors Megan Jula and Courtney Williamson and juniors Molly Mackessy and Samantha Burgess - have helped the team make the transition to its third coach in as many seasons, according to Dempsey.

Senior Paige Householder and junior Kaitlyn Weiker have played well while splitting time in goal, Dempsey said.

"I think the girls are working tremendously hard as a team," Dempsey said. "We've had a tremendous amount of leadership. They've all been very receptive."

•The football team was No. 1 in the Division IV state poll before Week 5 of the regular season.

The Hawks are off this weekend before returning to action Oct. 7 against visiting Elyria Catholic. One of Hartley's toughest tests last season came in Week 4 when it beat the Panthers 34-28 in overtime.

Elyria Catholic was 2-3 after losing to Avon 27-16 on Sept. 23. The Panthers play North Ridgeville on Friday, Sept. 30.

Hartley was 5-0 after defeating Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph 49-7 on Sept. 24.

Through four games, JaWaun Woodley had rushed for a team-best 416 yards and three touchdowns, Jarrod Zang had 289 yards rushing and four touchdowns and Marcellus Calhoun had contributed 258 yards and three scores.

Sophomore quarterback Jared Brandewie was 8-for-21 passing for 173 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Defensively, Alonzo Saxton and Zang both had two interceptions and Ben Reis had one.