As the Westland High School girls volleyball team prepared to play state-ranked Dublin Coffman on Oct. 2, coach Nicole Zumpano was realistic about the Cougars' chances.
Zumpano admitted Westland would be overmatched and instead focused on the players having fun while also learning what it takes to compete against an elite program.
"They're a great program and they've been a great program for the last 10 years," Zumpano said of the Shamrocks, who were ranked ninth in the latest Division I state poll. "I knew today I wasn't going to come in and get a (win) and I told the girls to have fun with it and they did. When we have fun, we play a lot looser and we play a lot better."
The Cougars lost 25-9, 25-11 and 25-10 and were 4-14 overall and 0-7 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Upper Arlington on Oct. 4.
"I feel we could be better," Zumpano said. "Communication-wise, I feel we could talk a lot more on the floor, but right now we're playing loose. We're having fun and we're playing good ball."
Westland enters the final stretch of the regular season looking to gain momentum for the district tournament, which begins Oct. 15.
The Cougars are hoping to avenge a loss to Central Crossing when the teams meet Thursday, Oct. 11, at Westland. The Cougars lost to the Comets 26-24, 25-13, 25-12 on Sept. 25 in the first round of league play.
Central Crossing entered its match against Hilliard Davidson on Oct. 4 at 3-14 overall and 2-5 in the league.
Zumpano said the Cougars should be aided by the return of senior outside hitter Madison Green, who has been out since early September with a right elbow injury suffered during practice.
Zumpano was hoping Green would play against Bexley on Wednesday, Oct. 10, as a tune-up for the Central Crossing match and the postseason.
"It's going to be senior night for us, so that's going to be a big deal," Zumpano said of playing the Comets. "We've been talking about the (first) match every day when we hit the court and it's something we're not going to forget."
With Green out, Hannah Walls has played a more prominent role and led the team in kills with 100 through 18 matches.
Walls is looking forward to the rematch with Central Crossing.
"It would be great to get a win, especially on senior night," she said.
Cameron Phaunef led the Cougars in assists (200) through 18 matches, while Brooklyn Granato led in digs (187) and Kalista Prak led in aces (25).
"We try to make it as much fun as we can because it is our (senior) season," Granato said. "We try to forget about the last point and just play volleyball."
Football team to visit Central Crossing
The football team enters its game Friday, Oct. 12, at Central Crossing looking for its first win in the series. The Comets have won all nine meetings.
Westland was 1-5 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Marysville on Oct. 5, while Central Crossing was 3-3 overall and 0-1 in the league before playing Coffman that same night.
"We know that it's going to be a big game for us just like we thought Franklin Heights was going to be a big game for us," coach Rick Rios said. "We want to do well against the neighborhood schools and the schools in our school district, so that will probably add a little extra flavor to it."
The Cougars lost at UA 21-0 on Sept. 28 as they were outgained 405-176. DeShawn Evans passed for 75 yards and Manuel Mickens rushed for 42 yards.
Through six games, Evans had completed 121 of 212 passes for 1,387 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Peterson Iresne had rushed for 430 yards and five touchdowns on 87 carries.
The Comets were limited to 74 total yards in a 31-0 loss to Davidson on Sept. 28.
Through six games, Pierre France had rushed for 535 yards and six touchdowns on 107 carries and Kameron Peck had completed 28 of 56 passes for 485 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
Girls tennis team competes at sectional
The girls tennis team competed in a Division I sectional Oct. 5 and 6 at Reynoldsburg after play was postponed Oct. 4 because of bad weather.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district Thursday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 13, at Reynoldsburg.
Boys golf team concludes season
The boys golf team closed its season by competing in a Division I sectional Oct. 2 at Denison Golf Club.
The Cougars did not have enough players for a team score as Dublin Jerome finished first (290) of 12 teams. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Apple Valley.
Junior Corey Daugherty led the Cougars with a 115, followed by sophomores Sam Stutz (123) and Brandon Fernandez (137).
"The team improved this year," coach Brad Kramer said. "We had a few kids who couldn't compete at the sectional tournament for various reasons. Therefore, we weren't able to have a team score. The three players who played all had their best 18-hole score. Our team should be better next year with more experience. Corey will be our (No. 1 player) and we will look to him to get us a good score each match."
Sophomores Jaeven Eckles and Aiden Lilly also are eligible to return.
Below are the coming schedules for the Westland cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 13 -- OCC-Central meet at Hilliard Davidson
*Oct. 9 -- At Central Crossing
Oct. 11 -- At Pickerington Central
Oct. 13 -- At Jonathan Alder
*Oct. 9 -- Home vs. Central Crossing
Oct. 11 -- At Franklin Heights
*Oct. 9 -- At Davidson. The Cougars lost to the Wildcats 25-21, 25-18, 25-22 on Sept. 20.
Oct. 10 -- Home vs. Bexley
Oct. 11 -- Home vs. Central Crossing. The Cougars lost to the Comets 26-24, 25-23, 25-12 on Sept. 25.