The season has started out according to plan for the Delaware Hayes High School girls volleyball team.

Although the Pacers have a new coach in Raynard Martin, they have followed a 16-8 finish last season with a 6-2 start that included wins in each of their first three OCC-Cardinal Division matches.

It isn’t a surprise to Martin, who took over after Liz Kaylor-Palmer stepped down after three seasons. Last fall, the Pacers reached a Division I district semifinal and finished third in the league at 7-5.

“When coach Liz left and (moved) to Michigan, the position came open,” Martin said. “This is actually my fifth year in the program because I started coaching in the middle school when I started teaching health at Dempsey Middle School. When this position came open, we had some good conversations and we’re really pleased with the direction the program is going.”

Delaware opened league action by beating Hilliard Darby 25-17, 23-25, 25-16, 26-24 on Aug. 21, Dublin Scioto 25-17, 23-25, 25-19, 25-19 on Aug. 23 and Thomas Worthington 25-9, 25-20, 25-19 on Aug. 28.

Last season marked the first time the Pacers posted a winning record since 2009 although they reached a district semifinal for the second consecutive season.

Julia Kaylor, an outside hitter who was the previous coach’s sister and is now playing for Lake Erie College, led a five-member senior class last season.

Delaware is running a 6-2 offense that features junior Becca Rocassin and sophomore Anna Johnson both playing at setter and right-side hitter. Lauryn Rocassin, who was last year’s setter and a first-team all-league honoree, also was lost to graduation.

Seniors Emily Gray (defensive specialist) and Sydney Krewson (outside hitter) and junior Hadlee Bruns (middle hitter) are other key returnees.

Rounding out the senior class are MaKayla Gill (setter), Maisy Johnson (defensive specialist), Kaiden Murphy (middle hitter) and Isis Price (outside hitter).

Also on the team is junior Lilly Lagando (outside hitter).

“It’s been great,” Martin said. “The girls’ effort has been unbelievable right now. They’re jelling as a group and that cohesion is so important. We like each other and there’s no tension in our program. We all have the same goal and purpose, so that’s been really cool. The program’s in good shape and there’s a lot of confidence in where we’re at.”

Cross country teams again have young look

Of the 14 combined runners the boys and girls cross country teams had competing in the district meet last season, only four were seniors.

Because of those losses and other roster turnover, both teams again will have freshmen and sophomores taking on key roles in their respective packs.

“On the girls side, we lost three or four varsity girls to either graduation or deciding to do other stuff, so we’re back to where we’re very young again,” 13th-year coach Jim Bibler said. “The boys team also is young again with the exception of (senior) Avery Latta. We just have to keep improving and getting better.”

Latta was the boys team’s No. 1 runner in the Division I, district 2 race last season, finishing 77th (18:14.05) as the Pacers placed 15th of 17 teams.

Delaware opened Aug. 25 by placing last (191) in the seven-team Panther Fun to Run at Sandusky Mills Creek. The Pacers also took the opportunity to visit Cedar Point while they were in the area.

Sophomores Padraig Mumper, Isaak Scheeler and Gary Weckerly and freshmen Sebastian Stewart, Juan Tello and Liam Waselko also have been among the team’s top seven.

Junior Eric Puthoff was the team’s No. 7 runner at district last season and should be another contributor.

Nick O’Bryant and Anthony Matus were lost to graduation and senior Lucas Pape is not competing this fall.

Sophomore Lauren English, who finished 25th (20:06.79) in the district 3 race a year ago to miss advancing to regional by one spot, has returned as the No. 1 runner for the girls team.

The only other district competitor to return, however, is sophomore Brynn McGrail, who has battling an injury.

Sophomore Leila Buoziri, who missed part of last season with an injury, has been the No. 2 runner.

Senior Mallory Bibler, junior Allison Miller and freshmen Laura Ewell, Miranda Gemberling and Kailyn Smith also are among the top runners. Bibler is the coach’s daughter, while Miller is a move-in from Springfield.

Senior Emily Gray, junior MaryBeth Zimmerman and sophomore Becca Young were among the top runners last season but have elected to participate in other activities this fall. Grace Fowler and Ashley Woller were among those lost to graduation.

Football team preps for Cougars

The football team has gone 1-3 against Westland over the past four seasons, but each of those losses have come by seven points or fewer.

Delaware, which beat the Cougars 36-16 in 2016 when Westland endured an 0-10 season, will try to avenge a 19-14 loss last season when it plays Friday, Sept. 7, at Westland.

The Cougars’ only win last season came against Delaware, but they figure to be an improved team considering they opened with a 34-32 loss to Licking Heights on Aug. 24 before playing Marion-Franklin on Aug. 31.

Delaware leads the all-time series 6-5.

The Cougars didn’t score more than 28 points in any game last season but have a new coach in Rick Rios, who formerly coached Warren Harding to a 2-8 finish in 2011 and Loudonville to a 6-24 mark the past three seasons.

Against Licking Heights, quarterback DeShawn Evans completed 29 of 46 passes for 361 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, Anthony Widen had 12 receptions for 189 yards and two touchdowns and Peterson Iresne rushed 15 times for 50 yards and two scores to lead the offense. Linebacker Manuel Mickens led the Cougars’ defense with 18 tackles.

“I know (Westland) has good athletes over there,” coach Scott Wetzel said. “They almost beat Licking Heights, and Licking Heights has had great football teams. They’re on the verge of turning things around. Westland did beat Delaware last year and maybe they’re in the same situation we are where you’re trying to find your identity and trying to build your program to the next level. We have to go there and it’s our only game playing on grass, so I’m sure they’re going to play great at home.”

Wetzel’s first game as Delaware’s coach was a success, as the Pacers beat Buckeye Valley 24-7 before a large crowd at Selby Stadium on Aug. 24.

The Pacers played host to Marysville on Aug. 31.

Wetzel beat Delaware two times when he was Buckeye Valley’s coach from 1992-96, but the Pacers have had the Barons’ number of late as Delaware won its seventh in a row in the series.

In the latest matchup, quarterback Blake Eiland and running back Jahi Broussard-Nash both rushed for more than 100 yards and the Pacers held the Barons to fewer than 100 total yards, according to Wetzel. Linebacker Mason Davis and defensive back Ethan Hazelton both had an interception.

“We felt pretty fortunate to walk away with a win,” Wetzel said. “It was a great atmosphere with Selby (Stadium) holding between 9,000-10,000 people, and it was almost full. I thought our defense played well and battled. Offensively, we have a little bit of work to do, but it’s simple corrections. The old cliché is that you make your biggest improvements between Week 1 and Week 2.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 25 – Panther Run to Fun at Sandusky Mills Creek

Sept. 1 – Granville Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion

Sept. 8 – McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial

Sept. 15 – Galion Festival at Amann Reservoir

Sept. 22 – Celtic Clash at Dublin Jerome

Sept. 29 – Erin Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club

Oct. 6 – Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 18 – at Sparta Highland with Buckeye Valley

*Aug. 21 – at Hilliard Darby

*Aug. 23 – vs. Dublin Scioto

Aug. 25 – Pirate Invitational at Cardington

*Aug. 28 – vs. Thomas Worthington

*Aug. 30 – at Hilliard Bradley

*Sept. 4 – vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*Sept. 6 – vs. Dublin Jerome

Sept. 8 – vs. Marion Harding

Sept. 11 – at Westerville North

*Sept. 13 – at Olentangy Berlin

*Sept. 18 – vs. Hilliard Darby

Sept. 22 – vs. Delaware Christian

*Sept. 25 – at Dublin Scioto

*Sept. 27 – at Thomas Worthington

*Oct. 2 – vs. Hilliard Bradley

*Oct. 4 – at Worthington Kilbourne

*Oct. 9 – at Dublin Jerome

*Oct. 11 – vs. Olentangy Berlin

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls tennis teams:

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 5 – Marysville at Oakhaven

Sept. 6 – Watkins Memorial at Oakhaven

Sept. 7 – Marion Harding Invitational at Marion Country Club

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 4 – Olentangy Berlin at Bent Tree

BOYS SOCCER

*Sept. 4 – Home vs. Dublin Scioto

Sept. 8 – At Mansfield Madison

GIRLS SOCCER

*Sept. 4 – At Scioto

Sept. 6 – Home vs. Reynoldsburg

Sept. 8 – At Kenton

GIRLS TENNIS

*Sept. 4 – Home vs. Dublin Jerome

*Sept. 6 – At Berlin

*League contest