'Misfits' contributing to North's strong play
Aaron Hastings calls it his "team of misfits."
Despite having several players with more experience playing other sports, the Westerville North High School girls volleyball team was 10-3 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Dublin Scioto on Sept. 24.
"Our starters consist of Sara Conway, who played soccer last year instead of volleyball, Halli Swiger (who) plays softball all year (and) my setter Natalia Szwabinsky (who) is finally healed from shoulder surgery, and we have a few basketball players as well," Hastings said.
"We are finding ways to make it work, finding ways to come together and finding ways to win. I couldn't be more thrilled with the success we've had this season."
According to Hastings, junior middle hitter Rebecca Skidmore has been averaging a team-high 6.5 kills per game and sophomore middle hitter Hope Bruce has been another key contributor offensively. He also has been pleased with the defensive play of juniors Ashley Fradette and Maddy Strayer.
"Our win at home against Dublin Scioto (25-19, 25-20, 12-25, 20-25, 15-12 on Aug. 29) was huge," Hastings said. "They have a strong corps of seniors, but on that night we were slightly better and mentally tougher. ... What I'm proud of most about this team is their ability to come together when they meet adversity."
Warhawks winning despite inexperience
Central had a 31-match winning streak in OCC-Cardinal play snapped when it lost to Hilliard Bradley 25-19, 25-23, 25-17 on Sept. 3, but its league-title hopes still are in sight.
The Warhawks were 11-2 overall and 7-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Canal Winchester on Sept. 24.
According to coach Shaun Servick, among the season highlights thus far was a 25-22, 15-25, 25-11, 22-25, 23-21 win over Olentangy on Aug. 20.
"I think the season has gone well," Servick said. "We began with a group that wasn't quite sure how to win at the varsity level, but every week we keep getting better and learning new things. They have continued to improve every week and I think our best volleyball is still in front of us."
Seniors Kelly Piper (setter) and Maddie Cline (libero) and sophomore Katie Meyers (opposite hitter) are the only players who were key contributors a year ago when the Warhawks went 21-3 and reached a Division I regional semifinal.
Central went 14-0 to win the OCC-Cardinal title each of the past two seasons.
Bradley also was 7-1 in the league before playing Westerville South on Sept. 24.
Wildcats looking for more victories
South was hoping to take a significant step forward this season after finishing 8-14 last year, but the Wildcats were 4-8 overall and 1-7 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Bradley on Sept. 24.
"(It has been) challenging," coach John Nguyen said. "We are working hard, but we are struggling with consistency in decision-making as well as making plays. We are not as fired up as we need to be to compete."
South opened the season with victories over Reynoldsburg (25-27, 25-16, 25-21, 13-25, 15-11 on Aug. 20) and Olentangy Orange (23-25, 25-21, 27-25, 25-23 on Aug. 22). It also posted wins over Westland (25-16, 25-23, 25-22 on Sept. 7) and league-foe Dublin Jerome (26-24, 25-20, 25-20 on Sept. 12).
Seniors Madison Russell (outside hitter/middle hitter), Carlie Freeman (setter) and Taylor Smith (libero) have been among the team's top players, according to Nguyen.