The Delaware Hayes High School girls volleyball team is seeking to take the next step after ending a postseason lull a year ago.

Last season, the Pacers won a Division I district tournament match for the first time since 2011 and reached a district semifinal for the first time since 2004 before losing to top-seeded Dublin Coffman 25-11, 25-14, 25-18 to finish 11-13.

Delaware has already clinched its first winning season since 2009.

"It's been an excellent season already and the girls are hungry and excited about the possibility of making a strong run in the tournament," coach Liz Kaylor-Palmer said. "The girls are happy to have the opportunity to prove themselves after getting our highest seed in years, maybe one of the highest ever."

Delaware, which was 14-6 overall before closing the regular season Oct. 12 at home against Westerville North, is seeded 13th of 50 teams in the district tournament and has a first-round bye. The Pacers will play host to 20th-seeded Watkins Memorial or 30th-seeded North in the second round Thursday, Oct. 19.

The second-round winner advances to a district semifinal Oct. 26, where it likely will face second-seeded Olentangy Liberty.

The Pacers faced North on Oct. 12 without senior outside hitter Julia Kaylor, who was injured Oct. 5 during a 25-19, 25-27, 25-19, 25-14 victory over Dublin Jerome.

"We're going to have to switch the lineup around some against (North on Oct. 12), so I don't know if we're going to get a real gauge against them or if they'll get one on us if we do meet them in the district tournament," said Kaylor-Palmer, Kaylor's sister. "Same with any Watkins Memorial scout. Things could be different in the tournament.

"We lost two out of our final three regular-season matches last year and one of them was a tough one to Westerville North (25-21, 21-25, 18-25, 25-14, 16-14), and that's what kept us from a winning season last year, so the girls were all pointing toward (Oct. 12) as an important match for us before the injury."

The Pacers snapped a three-match losing streak with the win over Jerome and finished 7-5 in the OCC-Cardinal Division, placing third behind Worthington Kilbourne (12-0) and Hilliard Darby (9-3) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (6-6), Hilliard Bradley and Jerome (both 3-9) and Thomas Worthington (2-10).

Comets to test girls soccer team

The girls soccer team defeated Westerville South 4-2 on Oct. 5 and was 7-5-3 overall before closing the regular season Oct. 12 against Mount Vernon.

The Pacers are seeded 19th of 42 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play host to 21st-seeded Central Crossing in the first round Monday, Oct. 16. The winner plays at 16th-seeded Marysville in the second round Thursday, Oct. 19.

The second-round winner advances to a district semifinal Oct. 24.

"Although this may be the highest we've ever been seeded, we're going to be tested by Central Crossing," said coach Bradd Smiley, whose team has not played the Comets or Monarchs this season. "They've scored over 50 goals. Even if they had some blowout wins to rack them up, they can find the back of the net. But I like the way our defense has been playing. After the first five or six games, our goals-against average has continued to drop and our girls are playing collectively."

Central Crossing is 9-6-1 and has scored 53 goals. More than half of the Comets' goals came in wins against Westland (15-0 on Oct. 10), Groveport (10-0 on Sept. 5) and Marion Pleasant (7-0 on Sept. 13).

Marysville, which was 5-6-4 before playing Darby in its regular-season finale Oct. 12, beat the Comets 2-0 on Sept. 19.

Delaware surrendered 13 goals in opening 1-4-1, but allowed only 11 goals over the next nine contests, in which it went 6-1-2.

"We've used around six girls in the back in front of (goalkeeper Abby Weller), but our center backs, Lauren McMillin and Reagan Olson, are seniors and are the glue in the back," Smiley said. "They never come off the field. We're strong up the middle with central midfielders Maddie Smith, Maddy Wilson and Emilie Kinney.

"But it's been a team thing. We're connecting passes, making strong runs and communicating well on defense. Everyone is contributing and that's what's making it so fun. I've had people telling me they haven't seen Delaware pass this well in years and years."

The Pacers finished 1-3-2 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Scioto for fifth place, behind Jerome (5-0-1), Darby (5-1), Bradley (3-2-1) and Thomas (2-3-1) and ahead of Kilbourne (0-5-1).

Boys soccer team to face Wolves

The boys soccer team snapped a four-game winless stretch by defeating Mansfield Madison 4-1 on Oct. 7 and Fairbanks 7-0 on Oct. 10 to improve to 8-4-3 overall before the regular-season finale Oct. 12 against Mount Vernon.

Delaware is seeded 17th of 47 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play host to 27th-seeded Kilbourne in the first round Wednesday, Oct. 18. The winner plays at fifth-seeded New Albany in the second round Saturday, Oct. 21.

The second-round winner advances to a district semifinal Oct. 25.

The Pacers tied Kilbourne at 2 in OCC-Cardinal play Sept. 26, as senior forwards Brody Kannally and Robbie Milner both scored and senior goalie Noah Meehan made seven saves.

Delaware has not played New Albany this season.

Against Mansfield Madison, Kannally scored three goals and his brother, sophomore Briggy Kannally, scored one. Meehan had four saves.

Brody Kannally scored five goals against Fairbanks. Kyle Klumpp and Owen Boyer also scored and goalie Davidka McCamon made three saves.

Delaware finished 2-3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal to place sixth, behind Jerome (5-0-1), Kilbourne (3-1-2), Bradley (3-3), Thomas (3-3) and Darby (2-2-2) and ahead of Scioto (0-6).

Football team preps to play Panthers

The football team snapped a three-game losing streak Oct. 13 when it beat Thomas 21-17 and plays at Darby on Friday, Oct. 20.

The Pacers lost to Jerome 34-13 on Oct. 6. They are 3-5 overall and 1-3 in the OCC-Cardinal.

The Panthers are 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the league after defeating Kilbourne 17-3 on Oct. 13, their third win in a row. They beat Mount Vernon 31-6 on Sept. 29 and Thomas 45-14 on Oct. 6.

Through seven games, Delaware was averaging 12.3 points and allowing 22 per contest, while Darby was averaging 19.9 and yielding 18.7.

Through seven games, Canyon Uphouse, a slotback and fullback, led the Panthers' option offense with 450 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 85 carries. Slotback Clint Barnett, who missed three games because of injury, was next with 256 yards and three touchdowns on 37 rushes, followed by running back Grant Hollinger (34 carries, 151 yards) and quarterback Jack Stultz (23 carries, 133 yards). Stultz replaced injured starter Henry Sopko, who is out for the season, in Week 5.

The Panthers had attempted only 24 passes through seven games.

Kael Gannon, the Pacers' projected starting quarterback who missed the first six games with a shoulder injury, returned against Jerome in limited capacity, throwing one pass. Blake Eiland scored on a 2-yard run and threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Cullen Moore.

Runners getting set for district meet

The cross country teams will compete in the Division I district meet Saturday, Oct. 21, at Watkins Memorial.

The girls will compete in district 3, where the top six teams and top 24 runners advance to the regional meet Oct. 28 at Pickerington North. The boys will compete in district 2, where the top five teams and top 20 runners advance to regional.

Both teams competed in the OCC-Cardinal meet Oct. 14 at Darby.

The girls team finished 20th (528 points) of 23 teams in the Les Eisenhart Invitational on Oct. 7 at Thomas, behind champion Liberty (62).

Lauren English led the Pacers, placing 68th of 198 runners in 20 minutes, 59.7 seconds. Also scoring were Grace Fowler (97th, 21:40), Brynn McGrail (121st, 22:46.5), Ashley Woller (123rd, 22:57.2) and Becca Young (139th, 23:56.2).

The boys team finished last (826) of 26 teams, behind champion Thomas (85).

Avery Latta placed 175th (18:41) of 234 runners to lead Delaware. Also scoring were Padraig Mumper (200th, 19:30.6), Lucas Pape (203rd, 19:39.3), Nick O'Bryant (204th, 19:40.3) and Aidan Stojkov (208th, 19:46.7).

Girls tennis season ends at sectional

The girls tennis team was unable to extend its season, as none of the Pacers finished in the top four in singles or doubles in a Division I sectional Oct. 6 and 7 at Pickerington Central.

Senior Serena Ishwar and junior Sarah Midura reached a district-qualifying match in doubles before losing 6-0, 6-1 to Pickerington Central's Jillian Stang and Semmie Moore, who were seeded third and finished second.

Ishwar and Midura rallied to beat Big Walnut's Maria Boyer and Allyson Stevens 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the first round and beat Westerville Central's Carley Weiler and Haley Prue 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 in the second.

Also in doubles, seniors Ericka Johnson and Paris Knipp went 1-1.

In singles, junior Grace Brinkmoeller went 1-1, while junior Renae Haferman and freshman Grace Martin both lost in the first round.

The Pacers, who finished 5-12 overall and went 1-5 in the OCC-Cardinal to place sixth behind champion Jerome (6-0), will lose senior Jaela Rodela in addition to Ishwar, Johnson and Knipp.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek