The Hilliard Bradley High School girls volleyball team has moved into the second half of OCC-Capital Division play knowing this might be its best chance to win a league title.

The Hilliard Bradley High School girls volleyball team has moved into the second half of OCC-Capital Division play knowing this might be its best chance to win a league title.

Entering this week, the Jaguars, Mount Vernon and Big Walnut were tied for first with 7-1 league records. The Yellow Jackets opened the door for themselves and Bradley by defeating the defending league champion Golden Eagles 25-21, 25-23, 25-23 on Sept. 15.

"It was a little surprising, but I knew that Mount Vernon is better this year and they must have brought their 'A' game," said sophomore libero Jennifer Espenschied, whose team lost to Big Walnut 25-23, 21-25, 28-26, 25-22 on Sept. 6 and defeated Mount Vernon 28-26, 20-25, 25-22, 25-21 on Sept. 8. "We're striving to be either first or second in the OCC and we're just going to keep on working hard to reach that goal."

Mount Vernon snapped Big Walnut's 43-match winning streak in league play. The Golden Eagles' previous league loss was 26-24, 25-12, 25-23 to New Albany on Oct. 11, 2007.

After playing Franklin Heights on Sept. 27, Bradley plays host to Big Walnut on Thursday, Sept. 29, and visits Mount Vernon on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

"We had very tight scores with Big Walnut in the first meeting, but we had a lot of errors there at the end of the game," coach RyAnne Ufferman said. "We play in waves. We will play really consistent and aggressively. Sometimes those waves last the whole game and sometimes we lose it for a couple of games. Part of that has to do with our youth. Experience is what teaches you how to play well in tight games."

The Jaguars have started matches strongly, compiling a 14-2 record in the first games of their first 16 matches. Ufferman said the team needs to give the same effort throughout the match.

"We come out ready to play, but what is happening is we get that first win and then we let down a little bit," Ufferman said. "We're not carrying that edge through the second game. We usually drop the second game and win in four. It is something we are really working on us as a team."

•Davidson has entered the second half of OCC-Central play, but coach Betty Cameron said she is not keeping an eye on the standings or worrying about what league-leading Dublin Coffman or second-place Upper Arlington are doing.

"We always want to stay as consistent as possible regardless of who is on the other side," Cameron said. "We can only control our side of the court. We can't control what is going on over there. We want to stay focused on what we can do."

After dropping back-to-back matches to Coffman 25-21, 25-17, 25-19 on Sept. 13 and UA 25-23, 25-20, 25-18 on Sept. 15, the Wildcats won three of their next five matches before playing Thomas Worthington on Sept. 27, including league wins over Darby (25-12, 25-22, 25-19 on Sept. 20) and Westland (25-13, 25-17, 25-18 on Sept. 22).

Entering this week, Coffman (8-0) led the OCC-Central followed by UA (7-1), Davidson (6-2), Central Crossing (4-4), Worthington Kilbourne (4-4), Thomas (2-6), Darby (1-7) and Westland (0-8).

The Wildcats have been strong in five-game matches, defeating Thomas 25-23, 23-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-11 on Sept. 1, Westerville North 25-23, 23-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-11 on Sept. 3 and Kilbourne 22-25, 19-25, 25-15, 25-13, 15-11 on Sept. 8.

"The girls are really in shape and that's why we're able to pull out those five-game matches," Cameron said. "Once you get into that last game, it comes down to who has that will to win. It's not necessarily which is the better team, it comes down to who is in better shape and who wants it more."

Cameron would like to see her team avoid getting into prolonged battles by cutting down on unforced errors.

"What we're trying to do is to stay focused for longer periods of time," she said. "If there's a mistake that's made, you learn from it and you move forward. It's volleyball, so it's a very emotional sport. If you mess up, you have to let it go and move on."

•After what she called a disappointing start to the season, Darby coach Liz Rundio was looking forward to getting a second look at the teams in the OCC-Central.

"I thought we would be a lot further along than we are. It's been pretty disheartening," Rundio said. "But the girls are working hard and hopefully in the second half of the season, we hit our stride.

"(In the second round of league play) the teams are getting better and you hope that your team is getting better to go along with that. The competition is a little bit stronger."

The Panthers were 1-11 overall before playing Central Crossing on Sept. 27, with their lone victory coming 25-21, 25-19, 25-18 over Westland on Sept. 15.

Rundio said her team is making strides in setting and on defense but needs to cut down on its unforced errors.

"Our setting still needs to improve, but we are seeing some strides there," Rundio said. "We need to work on finishing the play. We've made a lot of unforced errors.

"There are things we can control, but at this point we're not. We have to do a better job of that."