With a 3-18 record entering the Division I district tournament seeding meeting Oct. 8, first-year Westland High School girls volleyball coach Nicole Zumpano knew her team wouldn't receive a favorable draw.
The Cougars are seeded 47th of 50 teams and visit 36th-seeded Mount Vernon for a first-round match Tuesday, Oct. 17. The winner plays at second-seeded Olentangy Liberty in the second round Thursday, Oct. 19, with the winner taking on 13th-seeded Delaware, 20th-seeded Watkins Memorial or 30th-seeded Westerville North in a district semifinal Oct. 26 at Whitehall.
"I thought I had a couple more coaches on my side who would have voted higher for me than what really happened, but it's OK," Zumpano said. "It's going to take a little while for Westland to earn some more respect and that's fine."
Zumpano and her players are looking forward to the match against the Yellow Jackets.
"After talking to a couple of coaches, it doesn't sound like Mount Vernon played anybody really tough and it sounds like they are pretty beatable," Zumpano said. "I would like to get this one against Mount Vernon."
Westland fell to 3-19 overall with a 25-19, 18-25, 25-22, 25-13 loss at Central Crossing on Oct. 10. The Cougars went 1-9 in the OCC-Central Division to tie Central Crossing for fifth behind champion Dublin Coffman (10-0), which is the top seed for the district tournament.
The Cougars defeated Central Crossing 26-24, 20-25, 25-21, 25-16 on Sept. 19.
Senior outside hitter Taylor Goett, who is closing out a four-year career in the program, was a key contributor in what was a disappointing regular season.
"Taylor is definitely a team leader," Zumpano said. "Not only is she a great hitter, she's a good leader and played exceptionally great defensive ball, too."
Goett, who has committed to play at Alderson Broaddus University in Philippi, West Virginia, said Zumpano's leadership has made a big difference.
"I wish she would have come here earlier," Goett said. "She really changed this program around, and if she stays around like we hope she does, she can really change it all the way around."
Through 20 matches, Goett led the Cougars with 92 kills, followed by Madison Green with 66.
Cameron Phaunef had 174 assists, Brooklyn Granato had 149 digs, Joan Kowal had 37 blocks, Hannah Walls had 31 blocks and Emily Smith had 17 aces.
Middle hitters Walls and Kowal "are stepping up," Zumpano said. "Their blocking technique is exceptionally good and they're keeping us in a lot of matches. Brooklyn Granato had a slow start to the season (at libero), but she's really picking it up here at the end."
Westland also defeated Franklin Heights 25-20, 25-12, 25-14 on Aug. 24 and Bexley 25-22, 25-15, 25-10 on Sept. 6.
"Our record definitely doesn't show how much we've developed as a team, but I'm pretty satisfied with how the regular season has gone," Zumpano said.
Football team to tackle Coffman
The football team closes its season with games against Coffman and Hilliard Davidson, giving coach Kyle Goebbel's squad the chance to gain valuable experience against two traditionally successful programs.
Westland, which is 1-7 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Central after losing to Central Crossing 48-21 on Oct. 13, visits Coffman on Friday, Oct. 20, and plays Davidson on Oct. 27.
Coffman is 6-2 overall and 3-0 in the league after defeating Davidson 17-14 on Oct. 13.
"It's definitely a tough task to play both those teams and obviously they're always playoff powers," Goebbel said. "They're always getting better every week, so getting them at the end of the year is a pretty tough task."
Westland lost at Marysville 27-6 on Oct. 6. Ousmane Dabo scored on a 13-yard pass from Tyquwone Workman in the fourth quarter.
Workman completed 10 of 22 passes for 222 yards with one interception.
Before playing Coffman, Workman had passed for 688 yards and four touchdowns and Dabo had 91 tackles.
Boys soccer team to take on UA
The boys soccer team will play a familiar opponent in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
The Cougars are seeded 29th and visit 20th-seeded Upper Arlington on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
The OCC-Central foes met Sept. 26 at Westland, with the Golden Bears winning 2-1.
"At 29, we didn't have a lot (of choices on the bracket)," coach Jamie Dato said. "It looked like the best matchup. We lost to them 2-1 here, but we had a goal that bounced off the post and it looked like it went in (but) they didn't count it. We played them pretty close the whole game. I think we're even teams. Either team can win the game."
The winner plays at ninth-seeded Pickerington North in a second-round game Saturday, Oct. 21, with the winner advancing to a district semifinal Oct. 25 against eighth-seeded Olentangy, 45th-seeded Marion Harding or 46th-seeded Whitehall.
Westland was 7-8 overall before closing the regular season Oct. 12 against Teays Valley.
The Cougars completed league play by defeating Central Crossing 3-1 on Oct. 10 as Luis Santos scored two goals and Juan Martinez added one.
Westland went 1-4 in the league to finish fifth behind champion Coffman (4-0-1).
"We're being a little more consistent, so things have gotten better heading into the playoffs," Dato said.
Girls soccer team preps for postseason
The girls soccer team is seeded 40th for the Division I district tournament and opens with a second-round game Thursday, Oct. 19, at seventh-seeded Hilliard Darby.
"We have a tough match versus Hilliard Darby and will look to show them how much we've grown over the season, as we played them in a scrimmage back in August," coach Mike Schwarten said.
The winner plays 12th-seeded New Albany, 13th-seeded UA or 30th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a district semifinal Oct. 24.
Westland lost to UA 9-0 on Sept. 26 in OCC-Central play.
The Cougars finished 0-5 in the league with a 15-0 loss to Central Crossing on Oct. 10. They were 2-13 overall before playing Ready on Oct. 14.
Cross country teams to compete at district
The boys and girls cross country teams will compete in the Division I, district 1 meet Saturday, Oct. 21, at Watkins Memorial.
The top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to the regional Oct. 28 at Pickerington North.
The Cougars competed in the OCC-Central meet Oct. 14 at Darby.
Girls tennis team closes season
The girls tennis team concluded its season in a Division I sectional tournament Oct. 6 at Hilliard Bradley.
Junior Isabella Aldridge and sophomore Anais Fernandez defeated Independence's Shayanna Hinkle-Moore and Micaiah Blackford by default in a first-round doubles match before losing to Westerville North's Tatiana Slesnick and Maddie Jones 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.
Elly Tial, the team's only senior, and sophomore Katie Murray went 0-1 in singles.
Sophomores Genesis Hernandez-Perez and Samantha Khuon went 0-1 in doubles.
Westland finished 0-18 overall and went 0-5 in the OCC-Central to place sixth behind Coffman (5-0), UA (4-1), Marysville (3-2), Davidson (2-3) and Central Crossing (1-4).
"This season was a difficult one," coach Shaela Hinckley said. "We had a smaller team, which meant losing one court every match. The girls worked very hard to develop themselves as players."