First-year coach Clint Gentry is taking the Columbus School for Girls volleyball team to new heights.
The eighth-seeded Unicorns won only their third postseason match since 2008 when they defeated seventh-seeded and host Worthington Christian 25-14, 25-23, 25-18 on Oct. 21 in the second round of the Division III district tournament.
In 2008, CSG defeated Galion Northmor in the first round of the district tournament, and in 2012, the Unicorns beat Johnstown in the opening round.
"Our team leaders have stepped up in a big way and we have been playing as a team," said Gentry, whose team had a first-round bye and was 15-8 before playing third-seeded Marion Pleasant in a district semifinal Oct. 25 at Buckeye Valley. "We have been able to pick things up even when things have gotten bad."
The semifinal winner faces fourth-seeded Northmor or fifth-seeded Newark Catholic in a district final Saturday, Oct. 28, at Buckeye Valley. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Nov. 2 at Millbury Lake.
"It's amazing to advance in the tournament," said senior Lauren Carmon, an outside hitter/back-row player. "Everyone was unbelievable and played with a lot of heart."
Gentry said his team played at a high level to beat Worthington Christian for the third time this season. The Unicorns defeated the Warriors 25-13, 25-23, 23-25, 25-23 on Aug. 22 and 25-13, 25-18 in the Panther Classic on Sept. 16 at Fairbanks.
"Lauren Carmon and (middle hitter) Maryanne Boyle had a great match for us, and Peyton Jackson was good on defense," Gentry said.
"(Middle hitter) Bella Sloan, a freshman, led us in blocks. I think she had three or four key blocks for us in that close second game. Also, (outside hitter/back-row player) Haley Kuproski had our highest kill percentage in the third game and (setter) Fiona McAlearney had some key aces and didn't miss any serves."
Soccer team falls in district opener
The seventh-seeded soccer team finished 7-7-3 after losing to 10th-seeded Fisher Catholic 2-1 in the first round of the Division III district tournament Oct. 17.
Junior midfielder Hattie Person scored while freshman goalkeeper Eva Nicolosi had four saves and senior goalie Alyssa Estepp made one save.
"It was a heartbreaking way to end the season because we were playing so well," said seventh-year coach Mindy Hammond, whose team had beaten the Irish 2-0 on Aug. 21. "The kids have come so far from last season (when the team finished 4-11-2) and they should continue to improve."
The Unicorns went 1-2-1 in the CCL to place fourth, behind DeSales (3-0-1), Watterson (3-1) and Hartley (2-2) and ahead of Ready (0-4).
Junior midfielder Sydney Bennett (2 goals, 6 assists) and Estepp (3 goals, 2 assists, 115 saves) were named first-team all-league. Senior midfielder Bethany Yamamoto (4 goals), Person (4 goals, 3 assists) and sophomore midfielder Blair Glimcher (1 goal, 2 assists) were on the second team.
Junior forward Merrill Arthur and freshman forward Nyah Funderburke both had five goals to lead the Unicorns. Nicolosi, who also was a defender, had two goals and two assists to go with 15 saves.
Richardson races into regional meet
Eleanor Richardson will represent the cross country team in the Division III regional meet Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pickerington North.
Richardson finished 10th in a season-best 20 minutes, 22.49 seconds in the district 1 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial behind champion Shayla Pennington (19:08.77) of Berne Union. The top four teams and the top 16 individuals advanced to regional.
The Unicorns finished ninth (203 points) at district behind regional-qualifiers Fredericktown (46), Centerburg (68), Grandview (98) and Fairfield Christian (105).
Also competing for CSG were Sarah O'Dell (41st, 23:10.91), Elizabeth Tierney (43rd, 23:13.85), Katie Pawlik (54th, 24:00.58), Sabrina Morse (55th, 24:06.87), Charlotte Falk (58th, 24:21.19) and Amanda Barok (65th, 25:20.66).
At regional, the top 24 individuals advance to state Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway.
Season ends for field hockey team
The field hockey team lost to fifth-seeded Watterson 2-0 in the second round of the 17-team district tournament Oct. 19 to finish 3-11-3.
Freshman goalie Olivia Barry-Wilson had eight saves for the 13th-seeded Unicorns.