Since taking over the program in 2009, Whitehall-Yearling High School girls volleyball coach Danielle Jackson has organized events to help emphasize team bonding.
One of those events is a trip to Ohio State to watch the women's volleyball team play a match, along with taking a college visit for potential students.
The Rams visited Ohio State on Sept. 15, and Jackson said 15 of the 22 players in the program attended.
"It's great exposure for the kids," Jackson said. "A lot of them have never been down to Ohio State, so it's kind of cool for them to get to see the football stadium (and) St. John Arena; we drive past the Schottenstein Center. They hear about this stuff on the news, but they actually never get to physically see it."
The Rams watched Ohio State's match against Western Kentucky as part of the Buckeye Invitational. Although they didn't have the opportunity this time, Jackson said her players had the chance in previous years to meet with the Buckeyes to talk about the sport and also get autographs.
For senior middle hitter and outside hitter Trinity Johnson, who is still undecided on her future, the outing was a chance to see the sport at the collegiate level. She also plays on the Whitehall softball team.
"It's a great experience," Johnson said. "I get to watch volleyball in person. It's a much different feel when you're in person watching it versus on TV."
Before playing Northland on Sept. 18, the Rams were 7-5 overall. They are 3-1 in the MSL-Ohio Division.
The league loss came against Worthington Christian 25-21, 25-15, 25-16 on Sept. 14, but Jackson said her team played well.
The Warriors finished second to London in the MSL-Ohio last season and went 16-7. Jackson hopes her team can someday reach the level of Worthington Christian and contend for league titles on an annual basis.
"We're super close," Jackson said. "The girls just have to have confidence in themselves that they can do it because they have the skill. We were right there with (the Warriors) point for point. We just have to believe that we can do it."
The teams will meet again Oct. 7 at Worthington Christian.
The Rams play London on Thursday, Sept. 21, and Oct. 12. Those matches should be another chance for Whitehall to gauge its progress.
"We want to finish in the top two in the league," Jackson said. "We can do it if they just put their minds to it."
Through 12 matches, middle hitter Makhia Hinton had 101 kills, 26 aces and 10 blocks, and outside hitter Makencie Wilson had 57 kills and 10 blocks. Setter and outside hitter Sarah Seberig had 210 assists, 40 kills and 14 aces, and setter Makayla Wright had 113 assists and 13 aces.
"I'm very excited to see what we're capable of because I feel like we can be district champions. That's my goal for my last year," Johnson said.
Football team to
open league play
The football team enters its MSL-Ohio opener Friday, Sept. 22, at Columbus Academy looking to extend its two-game winning streak.
The Rams improved to 2-2 with a 40-27 win over visiting Hamilton Township on Sept. 15.
Academy lost at London 38-28 on Sept. 15 to fall to 3-1 overall and 0-1 in the league.
The teams have split the last six meetings, averaging a combined 58.5 points per game.
Against Hamilton Township, quarterback Raymell Byrd rushed for 264 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 179 yards and two scores.
"(Sept. 15) was his breakout game for him," coach Rod Lightfoot said.
"He's really becoming comfortable with what we're doing offensively. His decision-making has improved and that's reflected in his passing stats. He's really doing a great job of the zone read and making great reads. He's pulling it and getting some yards that we need to help this offense move forward."
Rasheed Muhammad added 140 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
K.J. Price rushed for 340 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries to lead London past Academy.
"They're going to be a tremendous challenge for us," Lightfoot said of Academy. "It's an outstanding program. They're one of the teams that we have to contend with to try and compete for a league title. Both them and London are the teams to really look at."
For the Vikings, Herman Moultrie has rushed for 479 yards and six touchdowns on 59 carries, and Matt Saling has completed 50 of 96 passes for 475 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Dorrian Moultrie has 23 catches for 247 yards and four touchdowns.
in Newark meet
The boys and girls cross country teams competed in the Newark Invitational on Sept. 16.
The boys finished eighth (165 points) of 15 teams behind champion Newark (52). Chris Charles was 16th (18 minutes, 29.4 seconds), Yared Yesuf was 30th (19:09.2), Efrem Gebreambes was 32nd (19:12.8) and Mikel Wilson was 33rd (19:22.5) of 184 runners.
The girls team finished 11th (289) of 11 teams behind champion Reynoldsburg (49). Selamawit Alebachew was 33rd (24:15.8) of 148 runners.
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling cross country, boys soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 27 -- Rick Mettle Invitational at Walnut Ridge
Sept. 21 -- At Groveport
Sept. 26 -- At Independence
*Sept. 27 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian
Sept. 21 -- Home vs. Westland
Sept. 23 -- MSL-Ohio tournament at Columbus Academy
*Sept. 21 -- Home vs. London
*Sept. 26 -- At Bexley. The Rams defeated the Lions 25-19, 25-18, 25-23 on Aug. 31.