Diana Brown wanted the quickest possible recovery from a torn left labrum, but the DeSales High School girls volleyball team's senior setter swears time wasn't the biggest motivation throughout five often-grueling months.
"It wasn't about getting back as early as I could. It was more about being a part of the team for my senior year," Brown said. "I wanted to be a good teammate and a support system on the court. I wanted to get back on the court, of course, but the motivation came from not knowing if I would play my senior year."
Originally injured March 27 while lifting weights, Brown underwent surgery April 26 and was told she would be out six months. By that timeline, she would not have returned until the district finals -- if the Stallions were to make it that far.
Faced with the prospect of never playing another high school match, Brown, who committed to the University of Illinois before her sophomore year, doubled down on her recovery over the summer and ended up missing only the first two matches of the season.
Brown was medically cleared to play in the back row before a 25-20, 25-19, 25-13 win over Columbus School for Girls on Aug. 29, and held that same role for a 25-12, 25-15, 25-9 win over Ready on Aug. 31 and three matches in the Best of Ohio tournament Sept. 2 at Toledo St. Ursula.
She was fully cleared Sept. 6, one day before a 25-22, 25-12, 24-26, 25-23 win at Hartley.
"I have no pain, no pain at all," said Brown, whose left arm gave out while doing overhead presses. "I didn't know (the extent of the injury) immediately. I woke up the next morning and I was in pain."
Brown attended Orthopedic One for one hour twice a week for her first two months of physical therapy, then scaled back to one day a week in July while exercising more at home.
On non-match nights, Brown still devotes about 20 minutes to push-ups or stretching a resistance band.
"She was diligent about it," said her mother, Ivy Brown. "She'd come home at night after hanging out with her friends and she'd do an hour's worth of physical therapy at 10 o'clock at night. She built up so much strength in her left shoulder. Her doctor didn't try to rush her back onto the court. He cared about her and her long-term health. She wasn't going to get released until she was ready."
Before DeSales played Ready on Sept. 19, Brown had 21 kills, 156 assists, 53 digs, 13 aces and 11 blocks in 23 games. The Stallions were 10-2 overall and 4-0 in the CCL before that match, and were ranked seventh in the Division I state poll last week.
According to coach Brenden Pence, the silver lining of Brown's injury - as well as that of middle hitter Tiara Teague, who was medically cleared from a foot injury shortly before the season - was that more players saw time. Brown still is splitting rotations with backup setter Bella D'Amico.
"You always hope for the best and plan for the worst. If we didn't have her back for a while, we had a contingency plan, but it's great to have her on the court," Pence said. "It definitely gave other girls opportunities to step up and do a great job. We're still scratching the surface. We definitely have a rotation; a few kids have done a great job and we have a lot of senior talent. There are kids I'd like to get in more, but in these CCL matches, it's tough to rock the boat too much. They do a great job pushing each other."
Girls tennis team
racking up wins
Girls tennis coach Tom Snyder hoped a strong first half of September gave his team a good boost into a busy stretch run.
DeSales won consecutive matches against Buckeye Valley (5-0 on Sept. 6) and Hartley (4-1 on Sept. 7), then saw three of its doubles teams place second in the Reynoldsburg Doubles Invitational on Sept. 9.
The Stallions were 7-6 overall before playing Westland on Sept. 18, and finished CCL play at 2-2 after a 4-1 loss to Watterson on Sept. 12 at Park of Roses.
"That whole stretch was big," Snyder said. "Getting three teams into championship matches at Reynoldsburg was outstanding. I mixed up the lineup going into that tournament to make sure all the singles players got a chance to play doubles, and it ended up paying off."
The teams of Megan Husslein and Erin Miller (second doubles), Allison Goetz and Cate Leithauser (third doubles) and Miranda Draminski and Aubrey Wilcox (fourth doubles) finished second in their respective brackets at Reynoldsburg. The first doubles team of Izzy Arbona and Alex Foos placed sixth.
Husslein and Miller have played first doubles most of this season, while Draminski, Wilcox and Annie Hazelton have seen the majority of time at second doubles.
Foos and Arbona usually play first and second singles, respectively.
DeSales went 1-1 last week, bouncing back from the loss to Watterson with a 5-0 win at Westerville North on Sept. 14.
"Initially, I was trying to find the right doubles teams, but that worked itself out pretty quickly. I've liked the consistency of those teams," Snyder said.
"We've adjusted the singles lineup based on our opponents. Alex and Izzy have been pretty interchangeable, and Catie is consistent with her groundstrokes."
Football team must
slow down Colonels
Through its first three games, the football team gave up a combined 21 points but none during the first three quarters.
The Stallions' defense didn't have nearly as strong a performance Sept. 15 in a 42-7 loss to Indianapolis Chatard at Earlham College. DeSales fell to 3-1 and had its 22-game regular-season winning streak snapped.
Chatard led 21-7 at halftime and totaled 347 yards of offense.
DeSales could face its toughest offensive opponent to date when it plays Friday, Sept. 22, at Covington (Kentucky) Catholic, which improved to 5-0 with a 45-9 win over Beechwood (Kentucky) on Sept. 15 and is averaging 43.6 points.
The Stallions' defense intercepted eight passes over the first three games, with Anthony Sciarroni picking off two.
Other defensive standouts have included linemen Brandon Derrow and Cullen Krombach and linebackers Brian Asamoah and Ty Van Fossen.
"Our defensive line has been getting after it up front, and our defensive backs have settled in," Van Fossen said.
Through four games for Covington Catholic, senior quarterback A.J. Mayer (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) was 49-for-78 passing for 828 yards and 11 touchdowns, junior running back Casey McGinness (5-10, 185) had 50 carries for 315 yards and four touchdowns, senior wide receiver Malachi Pike (6-2, 190) had 10 catches for 174 yards and four touchdowns and junior wide receiver Jack Coldiron (6-5, 210) had 10 receptions for 266 yards and three scores.
Defensively for the Colonels, sophomore lineman Michael Mayer (6-5, 210) had 15 tackles and 4.5 sacks, senior linebacker Kameron Butler (6-4, 245) had 14 tackles and senior Adam Schneider (5-9, 155) had two interceptions in the secondary.
Boys golfers prep
for big tourneys
The boys golf team's season kicks into high gear starting this weekend, as it participates in the CCL postseason tournament Sunday, Sept. 24, at The Players Club at Foxfire before a Division II sectional tournament Tuesday, Sept. 26, at Oakhaven or The Players Club.
DeSales finished fourth (253) in the CCL preseason tournament Aug. 17 at Darby Creek behind St. Charles (206), Hartley (232) and Watterson (242). The event was called after 13 holes because of bad weather.
St. Charles is seeking its 10th consecutive league championship
At sectional, the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 4 at Denison Golf Club at Granville.
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 23 - Tiger Invitational at Pickerington Central
Sept. 21 - Hartley at Blacklick Woods
Sept. 23 - Watterson Invitational at Clover Valley
Sept. 24 - CCL postseason tournament at The Players Club at Foxfire
Sept. 26 - Division II sectional tournament at Oakhaven or The Players Club at Foxfire
Sept. 25 - Thomas Worthington at NorthStar
Sept. 26 - Hilliard Darby at Rolling Meadows
Sept. 27 - Delaware at NorthStar
Sept. 22 - At Louisville (Ky.) Trinity
Sept. 23 - Covington (Ky.) Catholic at Louisville Trinity
Sept. 26 - At Granville
*Sept. 21 - At Ready
Sept. 25 - At Granville
Sept. 21 - At Whetstone
Sept. 26 - Home vs. Grandview
*Sept. 26 - Home vs. Hartley. The Stallions defeated the Hawks 25-22, 25-12, 24-26, 25-23 on Sept. 7.