As Westerville South High School boys volleyball player Luke Carpenter rises above the net for a kill or block, he hears chants of "Luke" from the stands during home matches.
Carpenter, a senior middle hitter, said that will be one of his fondest memories of his four-year varsity career.Video •Watch an interview with Westerville South boys volleyball player Luke Carpenter.
"They've been doing that pretty much all four years," he said of the fans' acknowledgment. "It's like the only thing I hear when I'm out there."
One of nine seniors in the program, Carpenter helped the Wildcats earn their second consecutive league title and believes the team is optimistic heading into the Division I East Region tournament.
South is seeded second of 19 teams and plays 18th-seeded Reynoldsburg in the first round Friday, May 19, at home. The winner plays fourth-seeded Hilliard Davidson or 17th-seeded Thomas Worthington in a semifinal Tuesday, May 23, at home. The regional final is May 26 at Westerville Central.
The Wildcats were 17-6 overall entering the week and went 8-0 in the OCC-Buckeye Division to finish first ahead of second-place Olentangy (6-2).
South closed the regular season by playing Hilliard Darby in an OCC Challenge match May 17. The match could be a postseason preview, as South is ranked second in the region and sixth in the state behind Darby, which is first in both polls.
South lost to Darby 25-20, 25-23, 18-25, 25-16 in the Centerville Elite 8 Tournament on April 29.
The Panthers won state titles in 2013 and 2015 and were state runners-up in 2012.
Led by Carpenter, the Wildcats are looking to reach that level this season.
"We can certainly win it all," he said. "It's just a matter of putting it all together. Everyone has to go in with a good attitude and be confident in their ability. Sometimes we get a little nervous, but I know we can do it if we just know we think we can."
The Wildcats reached a regional final last season, losing to Pickerington North 16-25, 19-25, 25-17, 26-24, 15-11 to finish 19-6 overall. South shared the OCC-Cardinal title with Westerville North and Dublin Scioto at 10-2.
Carpenter was named second-team all-league last season. Through 22 matches this spring, he had 143 kills and a team-high 32 blocks.
Senior outside hitter Deion Woodson led in kills (227), and senior setter Roman Szwabinsky led in assists (597).
"It takes all of us to do this," said Carpenter, who will continue his playing career at Milwaukee School of Engineering, a Division III program.
Szwabinsky (St. Francis), Woodson (Wittenberg), senior right-side hitter Mason Cobler (Cincinnati Christian) and senior middle hitter Joel Slaughter (Liberty) also will play in college.
"Luke is a great kid to coach, actually the whole senior class is," coach Vicki Phillips said. "They are extra special. They're great kids. They have a high GPA. They're a wonderful group of seniors to have and I will miss them next year."
South defeated Westerville North 25-13, 25-10, 25-14 on May 10, giving it a season sweep of North and Westerville Central for the second consecutive year.
"Every Westerville team has that goal," Phillips said.
Track teams tune up
for district meet
The boys and girls track and field teams prepared for the Division I district meet this week at Darby by competing in the OCC-Buckeye meet May 11 and 13 at Orange.
The boys finished second (117 points) behind Orange (187) and ahead of Olentangy (84), Liberty (69), Central (42) and North (20).
Dominique Long won the 100 meters (10.98 seconds), finished second in the 400 (49.26) and placed third in the 200 (22.24).
Malik Powell won the 300 hurdles (40.29), Anthony Parham finished first in the discus (132 feet, 6 inches) and Michael Mansaray, Alfred Ibukunoluwa, Elton Sunnyway and Bankole Abimbola won the 400 relay (43.43).
South is competing in the district 3 meet, which began May 17, continues Thursday, May 18, and concludes Saturday, May 20.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional Wednesday, May 24, and May 26 at Pickerington North, with the top four finishers at regional advancing to state June 2 and 3 at Ohio State.
The girls finished fourth (59) in the league meet behind Orange (155.66), Central (132.33) and Liberty (96) and ahead of North (40) and Olentangy (40).
Brielle Collier won the 100 hurdles (15.49) and 300 hurdles (45.48), and Daja Mason, Marteana Newton, Alexys McClure and Kayla Silva won the 800 relay (1:45.43).
The girls also are competing in the district 3 meet.
Boys tennis team
competes at sectional
Freshman Anthony Vilardo led the boys tennis team in a Division I sectional May 11 at Reynoldsburg, as he came within one win from moving on to district.
Vilardo defeated Beech-croft's Ali Mojtabae 6-1, 6-1 in the first round and Worth-ington Kilbourne's Gordon Liu 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in the second round before losing to New Albany's Alek Jacoby 6-1, 6-2 in a quarterfinal.
Losing opening-round matches were Colin Rannebarger and Allen Liu in singles and the teams of Nathan Drum and Ekow Ampah and Will Zelinski and Quan Phan in doubles.
liked team's fight
Softball coach Jerry Kelbley was pleased with his team's spirit and determination this season.
South closed the season by losing to Reynoldsburg 10-3 on May 9 to finish 4-20 overall.
The 38th-seeded Wildcats lost at 34th-seeded Kilbourne 3-2 in nine innings in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 8.
South went 1-11 in the OCC-Buckeye. Central won its fourth consecutive league title at 12-0.
Sophomore McKenna Saunders (OF/P) led the Wildcats with a .475 batting average, but missed the final 11 games with a broken hand.
Rachael Broyles, who was one of three seniors, batted .470 with a team-high 14 RBI and seven doubles.
Sophomore pitcher Meghan Bame had three of the team's four wins.
Other players eligible to return include juniors Bre Anderson (OF), Kirstin Anton-aros (P/OF), Melanie Batchelder (SS), Zoe Conley (INF), Emily Hahn (OF), Majada Hejazin (INF) and Emily Phillips (INF/P), sophomore Angelite Boes (INF) and freshmen Alexa Batchelder (OF/P), Kate Forrest (INF), Yasmin Hussein (OF/INF), Amelia Kidder (OF), Emma Meyer (OF) and Lillyan Ockovic (OF).
Girls lacrosse team
falls in opener
The 15th-seeded girls lacrosse team lost at 14th-seeded Wadsworth 14-3 in a Division I, Region 1 tournament first-round game May 15.
South finished the season 0-18.
Boys lacrosse team
loses tourney opener
The 17th-seeded boys lacrosse team finished 2-17, losing at 16th-seeded Beavercreek 14-8 in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament May 13.
The Wildcats lost their final four games after defeating Jonathan Alder 16-6 on May 3.