After watching his team lose in three games to Olentangy Liberty in the first round of OCC-Central Division play, Westland High School girls volleyball coach Eric Hughes was looking for a better performance in the rematch Oct. 1.
According to Hughes, the Cougars turned in an improved effort in a 25-16, 20-25, 25-18, 25-23 loss at home after falling 25-12, 25-16, 25-11 on Sept. 5 at Liberty.
"They beat us by about 10 (points) every game (in the first match), so tonight was a lot better," Hughes said. "It's a good sign. We came out prepared. Last time, we weren't very prepared. We just came out flat last time. Tonight, it was a different story."
Westland was 7-12 overall and 3-8 in the OCC-Central before playing Dublin Coffman on Oct. 3. The Shamrocks entered the match 11-0 in the league.
The Cougars missed an opportunity to push the rematch against Liberty to a fifth game, as they held a 21-16 lead in the fourth game, only to watch the Patriots rally to close out the match by winning nine of the final 11 points.
Liberty never trailed in the first game, but Westland bounced back to win the second game, taking its first lead of the match at 12-11 on a kill by junior middle blocker Jackie Harris. The Cougars closed out the second game with an ace by junior middle blocker Kyleigh Jackson and a kill by sophomore outside hitter Jenna Panning.
Westland held a 4-2 lead in game three and tied the game at 15 on an ace by Panning, but Liberty scored 10 of the final 13 points to take the game.
The Cougars opened a 13-7 lead in game four, as senior setter Erika Moore assisted on three kills by Jackson and two by Panning. A kill by junior outside hitter Taylor Mitchell gave Westland a 21-16 lead before the Patriots rallied.
"The last time we played them, we lost really, really bad," Moore said. "This time, we did a lot better. At the end, we got a little tired, but I feel like we did good overall. This time everybody worked together. We were talking and we didn't have attitudes. We just worked together as a team this time."
Westland surpassed its win total from last year when it finished 6-16 overall by with a 25-18, 25-16 win over host Springfield on Sept. 21 as part of a tri-match. The Cougars also defeated Springfield Northeastern 25-5, 25-10 that day.
Westland closes the regular season this week with OCC-Central matches Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Upper Arlington and Thursday, Oct. 10, at home against Central Crossing.
The Cougars won the first-round matches against both opponents, beating UA 25-21, 25-20, 25-19 on Sept. 12 and defeating Central Crossing 25-19, 25-11, 29-27 on Sept. 17.
Westland then will prepare for the Division I district tournament, which begins Oct. 14. The tournament draw is being held Sunday, Oct. 6.
"When we pass well, we block well, we win," Hughes said. "We're making sure we're consistent. We're still a pretty young team. Good things are still to come."
Football team getting set to face Liberty
The football team travels to Liberty on Friday, Oct. 11, for an OCC-Central contest.
Westland was 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Hilliard Davidson on Oct. 4. Liberty, which defeated the Cougars 63-7 last year and leads the all-time series 3-0, was 3-2 and 2-0 before facing Marysville on Oct. 4.
Among the key players for the Patriots is running back Daryian Davies, who scored two touchdowns in a 16-8 win over UA on Sept. 27.
"They run a great system offensively and they do a great job of it," coach Steve White said of Liberty. "They run precise routes. They have great formations. What they do, they do it very well."
Westland lost to Thomas Worthington 76-32 in a league game Sept. 27, marking the second loss in a row.
The Cardinals were led by quarterback Danny Gordon, who completed 12 of 13 passes for 262 yards and four touchdowns, and running back Tony Harvard, who rushed for 192 yards and three touchdowns.
Quarterback Jayson Evans passed for 228 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a score to lead the Cougars. Evans was in the lineup in place of sophomore D'Kahri Scott, who was out with an undisclosed injury.
Early last week, White would not disclose if he expected Scott to play against Davidson.
"We didn't start the game too well," White said. "Thomas caused that to happen. They started off pretty hot and we didn't start off as good as we should have."
Boys golf team caps season at sectional
The boys golf team finished its season in the Division I sectional tournament Oct. 1 at Darby Creek.
Seeded 35th in the district, Westland shot a 391 to finish 12th of 13 teams, as fourth-seeded New Albany (299), third-seeded Coffman (304) and ninth-seeded Liberty (307) advanced to district Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Apple Valley and Canal Winchester (444) finished 13th.
Senior Gage Church led Westland with an 88, finishing 12 strokes behind the third and final individual district qualifier, Marysville's Morgan Tarrant (76).
Also competing for the Cougars were senior Steven Lewis (95), sophomore Stephen Gorslene (102) and juniors Drew Barrow (106) and Curtis Dyer (113).
"I lose our two best players (to graduation)," coach Brad Kramer said of Church and Lewis. "We just have to look for somebody to step up and want to play (as the No. 1 player) and, hopefully, the three guys that were fighting for that position this year, one of them steps out and does well and the rest of them chase after him."
The Cougars finished eighth (0-28) in the four-round OCC-Central tournament, behind Coffman (28-0), UA (23-5), Liberty (19-9), Marysville (15-13), Davidson (13-15), Thomas (10-18) and Central Crossing (4-24).
Church finished the season with a team-best 44.3 nine-hole average, followed by Lewis (46.2), Gorslene (54.9), Barrow (55.5) and Dyer (56.7).
Tennis team finishes third in OCC tourney
The girls tennis team finished third in the seventh-place OCC tournament Sept. 28 at Grove City.
Representing the OCC-Central, the Cougars scored 10 points in the first-year event, finishing behind Westerville South (17) of the OCC-Cardinal and Grove City (15) of the OCC-Ohio and ahead of Mount Vernon (8) of the OCC-Capital.
Westland competed in a Division I sectional Oct. 3 and 5 at Davidson. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district Friday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 12, at Davidson.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles at district advance to state Oct. 18 and 19 at Ohio State.