Despite sustaining its first loss in OCC-Cardinal Division play, Hilliard Darby High School girls volleyball coach Joe Ross is pleased with the strides made by his team.

Despite sustaining its first loss in OCC-Cardinal Division play, Hilliard Darby High School girls volleyball coach Joe Ross is pleased with the strides made by his team.

The Panthers were 6-3 overall before playing Newark on Sept. 15 and dropped to 4-1 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing to Dublin Scioto 25-18, 26-24, 21-25, 30-28 on Sept. 10.

"(Scioto) was a great match for us because it is a really good program with a lot of experience," Ross said. "They have eight seniors and many of them have been playing varsity since they were sophomores. We made one specific improvement (against Scioto) that we've been working on, and that was keeping ourselves in more points."

Darby opened league competition Aug. 27 with a 25-20, 25-19, 25-16 win over Westerville North. It then defeated Dublin Jerome 25-20, 13-25, 24-26, 25-15, 15-7 on Sept. 1, Canal Winchester 23-25, 25-20, 25-22, 21-25, 15-12 on Sept. 3 and Westerville South 25-8, 25-23, 25-23 on Sept. 8 before falling to Scioto.

"We have made a lot of errors offensively in the early part of the year," Ross said. "To play at the level that we are striving for, you have to win points when you are out of system. Against Scioto, we made some shots that we've been working hard on in practice. It was great to see that transfer into a match."

Through seven matches, Madison Smith led the Panthers with 86 kills and Madelyn Kucinic had 38. Kali Apelt led the team with 180 assists and had 77 digs and nine blocks.

Anita Perie led with 94 digs and had 35 assists and 13 aces. Monica Carsey had nine blocks, and Cambron Hampton had 13 aces.

Wildcats looking to regroup from injury

Davidson coach Betty Cameron was worried about her team returning only three starters from last season, and those concerns increased when one of those players was lost for the season with a knee injury.

Sophomore outside hitter Lauren Sampson suffered an ACL injury during a 25-15, 25-18, 25-7 loss to Dublin Coffman on Aug. 27 in the Wildcats' OCC-Central opener.

The other two returning starters are junior middle hitter Kendyl Paris and junior defensive specialist Ari Sherzai.

"The girls are working hard and playing through this," said Cameron, whose team was 5-4 overall before playing Olentangy on Sept. 15 and is 3-2 in the OCC-Central. "It's tough because we're missing some offense."

In other league matches, the Wildcats defeated Central Crossing 25-15, 25-17, 25-10 on Sept. 1, Westland 25-17, 25-22, 25-17 on Sept. 3 and Upper Arlington 23-25, 25-19, 29-27, 21-25, 15-13 on Sept. 8 and lost to Olentangy Liberty 25-21, 25-19, 25-23 on Sept. 10.

"(Senior) Skylar Mix (and sophomores) Sydney George and Alli Maughan have stepped up their games with Lauren out," Cameron said. "We have to minimize unforced errors and playing for every ball."

Jaguars working on mental toughness

Bradley was 3-6 overall before playing Olentangy Orange on Sept. 15 and is 1-4 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing to Westerville North 25-20, 16-25, 17-25, 25-13, 15-7 on Sept. 10.

"The match with North is a complete reflection of where our team currently stands at this point," coach Chelsea Noble said. "We are working mostly on confidence and mental toughness. This group is capable of great things when they want to take control. We are young and inconsistent, but each match gives us more experience under our belt.

"Sooner or later, it's all going to click."

The Jaguars posted their only league win against Westerville South, 25-12, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17 on Sept. 1. In other league matches, they lost to Jerome 25-13, 25-20, 17-25, 26-24 on Aug. 27, Westerville Central 25-5, 25-15, 25-21 on Sept. 3 and Canal Winchester 25-10, 25-10, 23-25, 22-25, 15-13 on Sept. 8.

"We don't have one standout player on our team," Noble said. "I think that's what makes our team lethal when we're all 'on.' We are dead even in terms of scoring with Donna Brown, Maggie Adams and Sara Oates. Both middles (Brown and Oates) are leading with blocks. Lauren Renner is leading the team with digs, with Sam Barton close behind."