The Groveport Madison High School girls volleyball team ended a tough stretch by winning consecutive matches for the first time in almost three weeks to take a 10-8 overall record into an Oct. 2 match against Canal Winchester.
The Cruisers were 7-4 after beating Bexley 25-18, 25-23, 26-24 on Sept. 11, but lost four of their next five matches to fall to 8-8. However, they rebounded to beat Franklin Heights 25-14, 25-12, 25-10 on Sept. 27 to improve to 2-4 in the OCC-Capital Division and then topped Briggs 25-14, 25-18, 25-12 on Sept. 29.
"It's been at least 13 years since we've reached double digits in wins," said fourth-year coach Matt White, whose team finished 8-15 last season. "Our goal every year is to find at least one more win than the previous year. I think we're a year ahead of where I thought we'd be."
Groveport's last winning season was 2002. While finishing with a winning record is a goal this season, White realizes it will be difficult to obtain, as the Cruisers' final four matches of the regular season, including their match against Canal Winchester on Oct. 2, are against talented OCC-Capital foes.
Groveport visits New Albany on Thursday, Oct. 4, and will play host to Newark on Tuesday, Oct. 9, before closing the regular season Oct. 11 at defending league champion Big Walnut.
"We knew we had those four tough ones to finish with," White said. "The goal is to improve on our competitiveness in those games and possibly win a pair of them. We played Canal tough (in a 25-15, 25-23, 26-24 loss on Sept. 6) and we took Newark to five sets (in a 27-29, 25-22, 24-26, 25-16, 15-11 loss on Sept. 27) for the first time I can remember. One thing is for sure, playing those four teams leading into the (Division I district tournament) will have us prepared."
The district tournament draw is Sunday, Oct. 7.
White said the addition of three newcomers, combined with the growth of his returning seniors, is what has made the difference this season.
The newcomers are senior Jade Morant (outside hitter), junior Michela Ayers (middle hitter) and sophomore Sydney Morant (middle hitter). Last season, the Morant sisters played at Eastmoor Academy and Ayers played at Walnut Ridge.
"They've definitely filled spots and gave us depth," White said. "Sydney is our best blocker who gets a lot of kills and Jade has rotated with Reina Rhone to give us two good right-side hitters.
"I think Kiara Brinkley, our setter in the 5-1 offense, has been super and Skilyn Jacks has been outstanding at libero. Our other outside hitters, Madison Young and Lizarely Martinez, have been solid, too. We've got a lot of pieces."
Girls soccer team 'showing improvement'
Entering an OCC-Capital game against Newark on Oct. 2, the girls soccer team had won every contest in which it had scored at least one goal this season.
However, the Cruisers had scored in only three games and were 3-10 overall and 1-2 in the league before playing the Wildcats.
"We lost 14 seniors from last year and we only had three new girls come into the program," coach Mark Coyer said. "We don't even have a j.v. team this year. We knew we had a good core group, but we knew they would need help around them. Unfortunately, it's taking more time to get the younger girls up to speed.
"They're showing improvement and they're trying hard. It's just that it's taking more time than we anticipated."
In addition, freshman Abby Griffith sustained a foot fracture in a 12-0 loss to Pickerington North on Aug. 28 and the Cruisers were forced to shuffle their lineup.
Groveport's wins have come against Westland (3-0 on Aug. 23), Briggs (8-0 on Sept. 6) and Franklin Heights (8-0 on Sept. 13). Since beating the Falcons, the Cruisers have lost to Central Crossing (7-0 on Sept. 18), Canal Winchester (9-0 on Sept. 20) and New Albany (14-0 on Sept. 25).
Girls tennis team set for sectional
The girls tennis team is competing in a Division I sectional Thursday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 6, at Upper Arlington.
In singles, junior Kelsea Caldwell will play West's Cammie Eckert and junior Precious Anumbondem will face Centennial's Nicole Kaiser in play-in matches and senior Serena Musungu will play Dublin Coffman's Hannah Qin in a first-round match.
In doubles, senior Anahi Herrera and sophomore Cassie Salva have a first-round bye, as do junior Lori Hill and freshman Gabby Monjaras.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament Oct. 11 and 13 at Reynoldsburg.
Postseason starts for boys golfers
Members of the boys golf team competed in a Division I sectional Oct. 2 at Turnberry, where the top four individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Apple Valley.
Competing for the Cruisers were Preston Nanthavong, Ricky Cooper and Price Cooper.
At district, the top two individuals not on the two qualifying teams advance to the state tournament Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison boys soccer and girls soccer teams:
Oct. 6 -- At Whitehall
*Oct. 9 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
*Oct. 9 -- At Big Walnut