Trent Hopson knew he would be needed more than ever this season for the DeSales High School boys volleyball team.

Trent Hopson knew he would be needed more than ever this season for the DeSales High School boys volleyball team.

To that end, there is a little less of him to go around.

Although the Stallions' 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter admitted he only recently has become completely comfortable in his role, statistics indicate Hopson settled in from the start.

Hopson had a team-high 230 kills as well as 78 digs and 23 service aces through 17 matches for DeSales, which was 14-6 overall before playing Pickerington North on May 11 and won its third outright CCL championship in four seasons.

"I don't think I was completely comfortable until about (the) Spike for Tykes (tournament April 23 at Capital University)," said Hopson, who recently committed to Wittenberg University. "Last year, we had Evan (Feltz) and Luke (Melsop) to lead us. Everything ran through them and that made things easier for the rest of us, and I wasn't really used to being a leader. Now I am trying to follow in their footsteps, and there are a lot of eyes on me. It took a little while to get used to that."

Hopson devoted much of his offseason, during which he played for Vanguard Volleyball Club, to improving his passing as well as work on his serve-receive and defense. He also slimmed down to 220 pounds from about 245.

"I feel like I'm reading blocks and our offense much better," said Hopson, who missed about half of last season because of a broken left thumb. "I think our whole team is."

Coach Andy Feltz is especially impressed with Hopson's performance given the time he missed as a junior.

"It's difficult to sit out half the season, but Trent worked hard on his conditioning and fitness," Feltz said. "He's a much better passer, defender and blocker than he was last year. I knew I would have to slide him into different positions; he'd have to play some back-row defense and he'd probably get double-teamed on the block. He's lived up to what I expected. If you want to be the guy, you have to work hard to get there, and Trent definitely has grown throughout the year."

Hopson hardly has been alone as a standout.

Girvan Warren had 74 kills and Luke Hippler had 46 through 17 matches. Jack Baird had a team-high 27 service aces and Max Freeman led the team in digs with 119.

The Stallions dropped a four-game showdown with defending Division I state champion Hilliard Darby on May 6, losing 25-23, 25-16, 24-26, 25-13, but swept two matches at Akron Hoban the next day, defeating Brunswick 25-20, 25-10, 18-25, 25-11 and Hoban 26-24, 28-30, 25-18, 15-25, 15-10.

DeSales, which clinched the CCL championship with a 19-25, 25-11, 25-13, 25-15 win over Watterson on April 26, participated in the Division II East Region tournament draw May 8.

The Stallions, who were state runners-up last year, are seeking their third state tournament appearance in four years.

DeSales went 4-0 in the CCL, finishing ahead of St. Charles (2-2) and Watterson (0-4).

The Stallions also won the outright league title in 2013 and 2015 and shared it with Watterson in 2014.

"It was a lot of fun winning another one, and we're happy about the fact that we were able to sweep St. Charles and Watterson," Feltz said. "It's a nice stretch of consistency. Now, we have to keep that up."

Girls lacrosse team celebrates CIL title

The girls lacrosse team earned its first outright Central Independent League championship in dramatic fashion.

Sophia Finotti scored DeSales' last three goals May 5, including the game-winner with 1 minute, 21 seconds left in overtime after tying the game with 18 seconds left in regulation, as the Stallions beat host Columbus Academy 13-12.

DeSales, which split the CIL title with Academy and Bexley in 2014, finished 7-0 in the league, ahead of runner-up Academy (6-1).

"This is huge for the players, it's huge for the coaches (and) it's huge for the program," coach Joe Finotti said. "It's a good feeling, especially for how we played. We made some little mistakes and they bit us, but we caught the ball better and attacked the cage better when we had the ball. And we won draws. This game is simple. Whoever won the most draws was going to win the game."

Sophia Finotti scored five goals against Academy and Jennie Finotti added four.

DeSales, which defeated Westerville Central 17-2 on May 7 behind four goals from Grace Lensmire, was 13-1 overall before playing Thomas Worthington on May 10.

The Stallions finish the regular season Thursday, May 12, at Dublin Coffman, and will begin the postseason next week.

DeSales is the top seed in the 28-team Division II South/Central Region tournament and took a first-round bye. It will play host to 24th-seeded Chillicothe or 26th-seeded Cincinnati McAuley in the second round May 20.

Baseball team preps for district tourney

The baseball team takes a six-game winning streak into its Division II district tournament opener Thursday, May 12, against 19th-seeded Johnstown or 24th-seeded Marion-Franklin.

DeSales, which is seeded fifth of 26 teams, improved to 15-7 overall by shutting out Licking Valley 2-0 on May 7. The Stallions also defeated Heath (5-0 on May 2) and Sparta Highland (5-3 on May 3) last week.

The two runs DeSales scored against Licking Valley were the fewest it has scored in a win this year, something coach Tom Neubert had hoped to see as the postseason neared from a team averaging 5.6 runs per game.

"We usually have to score four or five runs a game to win, but we also have to be able to rely on our pitching and defense. We have to limit our mistakes," Neubert said recently.

The second-round winner will play second-seeded Bloom-Carroll, 16th-seeded Independence or 18th-seeded Beechcroft in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 17, at a neutral site to be determined. The district final is May 19 at Beavers Field in Lancaster.

Boys tennis team wins first match

The boys tennis team earned its first victory of the season in its final CCL match, defeating Ready 3-2 on May 3.

DeSales swept the singles courts, clinching the win when Dylan Benedict edged Andres Walliser-Wejebe 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 at third singles.

The Stallions are 1-12 overall and finished 1-3 in the CCL, placing fourth behind champion St. Charles (4-0).

"(The Ready match) was a good match for us, as the players keep making matches closer and closer and competing harder and harder," coach Rob Lehner said. "That is what you want at this point in the year."

DeSales will compete in a Division II sectional tournament Thursday, May 12, and Saturday, May 14, at Columbus Academy.

Benedict, Christian Doumbouya and Olivia Shade will play singles, Dominic Belvedere and Armando DiMichaelangelo will comprise one doubles team and Khoa Do and Matt Piatt will comprise the other.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 19 at Academy and May 21 at Upper Arlington.

DeSales' final scheduled regular-season match is Monday, May 16, at Big Walnut.

Softball team began postseason at home

The softball team opened the Division I district tournament at home against a somewhat familiar opponent.

Seeded 15th of 45 teams, the Stallions played 16th-seeded Pickerington Central in a second-round game May 11. DeSales, which had a first-round bye, lost to Central 10-3 at home on April 28.

The second-round winner plays eighth-seeded Mount Vernon, 31st-seeded Canal Winchester or 33rd-seeded Thomas Worthington in a district semifinal Monday, May 16, at a neutral site to be determined. The district final is May 20 or 21 at Central.

DeSales, which was 13-10 overall before May 11, did not play any of its potential district semifinal opponents during the regular season.

The Stallions finished 2-4 in league play after a 7-4 loss to Watterson on May 3, and earned wins last week over Central Crossing (4-3 on May 6) and Big Walnut (17-0 in five innings on May 7). Kyla Payne had a three-run home run in the first inning against Big Walnut and Michelle Conti added a grand slam in the second.

Boys lacrosse team hopes to extend streak

The boys lacrosse team takes a 10-2 overall record into its regular-season finale Friday, May 13, at Dublin Coffman.

That game comes one day before the Division II Central Region tournament draw. First-round games are scheduled for Wednesday, May 18, and May 19, followed by the second round May 20 and 21.

DeSales is seeking its first state tournament berth since 2013.

The Stallions won two games last week, beating Watterson 15-8 on May 4 and host Westerville Central 12-6 on May 7. Those came after a five-game winning streak was snapped in a 14-13 overtime loss at New Albany on April 29.

CCL track meet wrapping up

The track and field teams will compete in the final day of the CCL meet Friday, May 13, at home, before turning their attention to the Division I, district 2 meet next week at Hilliard Darby.

The district meet starts with field events Tuesday, May 17, continues with preliminaries for the running events Wednesday, May 18, and concludes with the finals for the running events May 21.

The top four finishers in each district event advances to the regional meet May 25 and 27 at Pickerington North.

DeSales wrapped up its regular season May 6 with strong performances in the eight-team Tigers Invitational at Columbus East.

Art Williams' win in the 400 meters (51.49) helped the boys team to 114 points and first place (114) ahead of runner-up East (103.5). The 400 relay (43.75), 800 relay (1:31.83) and 1,600 relay (3:34.2) also won.

The girls finished third (84.5) behind champion Columbus School for Girls (151) and were led by the winning 3,200 relay (10:17.26).

Baseball players heading to next level

Three baseball players announced their college decisions May 6.

Conor Crotty will play at Ohio Dominican, Nick Smith will play at Concordia and Matt Zaremba will play at Niagara.