After securing the first winning season in coach Danielle Jackson's nine years with the program, the Whitehall-Yearling High School girls volleyball team looked to make a postseason run.

The eighth-seeded Rams were 13-9 overall before playing host to 15th-seeded Lakewood on Oct. 16 in the first round of the Division II district tournament. If the Rams won, they also played host to 12th-seeded Columbus East in the second round Oct. 18.

"I'm happy with the winning record," Jackson said. "We gave away a few matches and the girls know it, we talked about it. There are definitely a couple of matches that we should have won, but that was early in the season. We're definitely playing different now than we were at the beginning of the season. We're improving our play and stepped up."

The second-round winner plays top-seeded Sparta Highland, 19th-seeded Horizon Science or 21st-seeded Columbus International in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 25, at Licking Heights. The district final is Oct. 28 at Licking Heights.

"If we can make it (to a semifinal), it looks like we'll play Highland and they're going to be pretty tough," Jackson said.

The Rams went 6-4 in the MSL-Ohio Division to finish third behind London (10-0) and Worthington Christian (8-2). They were the only team to push London past three games in a league match, losing 25-18, 25-14, 28-30, 25-14 on Oct. 12.

"We're playing tough and we scored the most points we scored against them in the last couple of years," Jackson said. "We finished third in the league, which is really good since the last few years we were always in the middle of the pack or at the bottom. So to finish in the top three is a huge accomplishment for the girls."

The Red Raiders were seeded fourth for the district tournament.

Jackson said the play of junior middle hitter Makhia Hinton has been a key to the team's success. Through 22 matches, Hinton had 288 digs, 203 kills, 48 aces and 38 blocks.

"I like how we work together," Hinton said. "We get each other together and if we have an attitude we talk to each other."

Hinton said Jackson has been a big part of the Rams' continued turnaround after they finished 11-14 last season and earned a pair of district tournament wins to reach a semifinal.

Other top contributors have included senior setter/outside hitter Sarah Seberig (326 digs, 308 assists, 99 kills, 25 aces) and senior outside hitter/middle hitter Trinity Johnson (260 digs, 58 kills).

Senior outside hitter Makencie Wilson had 107 kills and 18 blocks, junior setter Makaylia Wright had 189 assists, 208 digs and 28 aces and junior outside hitter Alyson Shoemaker had 309 digs and 31 kills.

"We definitely have good balance," Jackson said.

Football team gets ready for Ready

The football team will look to remain in postseason contention when it plays host to Ready on Friday, Oct. 20.

The Rams are coming off a 56-0 win against Bexley on Oct. 13 and are 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the MSL-Ohio. They lost to Bexley twice last year, 21-7 during the regular season and 31-21 in the first round of the Division III playoffs.

Whitehall has moved to Division II and was projected to be 13th in the Region 7 computer ratings this week. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.

The Rams close the regular season Oct. 27 at London. The Red Raiders, who are 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the MSL-Ohio, lost to Ready 27-23 on Oct. 13.

In the latest matchup with Bexley, quarterback Raymell Byrd passed for 140 yards and five touchdowns and added 80 yards rushing, including a 40-yard touchdown to open the scoring.

Christian Gordon had touchdown receptions of 27 and 17 yards.

Ready is 6-2 and was projected to be third in Division V, Region 19 this week.

Against London, Jack Foley rushed for 168 yards and a touchdown and Matt Frye scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including the go-ahead 3-yard run in the final minute.

Boys soccer team preps for tournament

The boys soccer team has moved from Division II to Division I and is seeded 46th for the district tournament.

After a first-round bye, Whitehall visits eighth-seeded Olentangy or 45th-seeded Marion Harding in a second-round game Saturday, Oct. 21.

The winner plays ninth-seeded Pickerington North, 20th-seeded Upper Arlington or 29th-seeded Westland in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the home of the better seed.

The district final is Oct. 28 at a neutral site to be determined.

Whitehall lost at Thomas Worthington 3-1 on Oct. 12 and is 3-5-3.

Girls soccer team opens postseason

The 16th-seeded girls soccer team was 1-10 before playing at second-seeded Big Walnut on Oct. 16 in the first round of the Division II district tournament.

The winner plays fifth-seeded Buckeye Valley or 12th-seeded Lakewood in the second round Thursday, Oct. 19, at the home of the better seed, and that winner advances to a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 24, against third-seeded Jonathan Alder, seventh-seeded Hartley, 11th-seeded London or 15th-seeded International at the home of the better seed.

The district final is Oct. 28 at a neutral site to be determined.

Cross country teams prepare for district

The boys and girls cross country teams will compete in Division I district meets Saturday, Oct. 21, at Watkins Memorial.

The boys will compete in a 17-team district 2 race, from which the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to regional Oct. 28 at Pickerington North. The girls will compete in an 18-team district 2 race, from which the top six teams and top 24 individuals advance to regional.

The boys finished sixth (157) in the MSL-Ohio meet Oct. 14 at London behind Academy (40), Grandview (50), Bexley (72), Worthington Christian (91) and London (110). The girls finished fourth (105) behind Bexley (31), Grandview (54) and Academy (79) and ahead of London (124) and Worthington Christian (133).

Girls tennis team closes season

First-year girls tennis coach Darrin Green is hoping to add more players next season.

The Rams finished 1-14 overall and were seventh (0 points, 0-6) in the MSL-Ohio behind Academy (51, 6-0), Wellington (37, 5-1), Bexley (27, 4-2), Worthington Christian (24, 3-3), London (22, 2-4) and Grandview (5, 1-5).

"It was a fun first year," Green said. "I'm looking forward to getting more kids to participate and getting an early start to the year next season."

Whitehall competed in a Division I sectional Oct. 6 at UA, with junior Stacey Li going 1-1 in singles and the team of senior Taylor Marshall and freshman Desira Henderson finishing 1-1 in doubles.

Marshall was the team's only senior.

Others eligible to return include juniors Breonna Jarrells and Catherine Smith and sophomore Izzy Simmons.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank