After a strong start, the Ready High School girls volleyball team ran out of answers defensively against the district's top team.

After a strong start, the Ready High School girls volleyball team ran out of answers defensively against the district's top team.

The 11th-seeded Silver Knights won the opening game but lost the next three in a 21-25, 25-12, 25-11, 25-20 loss to top-seeded Sparta Highland on Oct. 25 in a Division III district semifinal at Buckeye Valley.

"They served lights out," coach Mike Kusan said. "They took us out of our offense. Our serve-receive has been stellar all year, but it wasn't as sharp as we needed it to be in our system."

Ready, which finished 12-12 overall, led 11-7 in the fourth game before the Fighting Scots scored six of the next seven points and went on a 14-2 run to make it 21-13. The Knights got as close as 23-19.

Highland improved to 24-1 and advanced to a district final Oct. 29.

"We definitely didn't give up and we played as a team and just kept fighting," senior libero Sam Vrancken said.

Ready lost to Highland in district finals in both 2013 and 2014 before reaching a regional semifinal last season.

On Oct. 22, the Knights beat eighth-seeded Centerburg 25-18, 25-12, 25-19 in a second-round match.

According to Kusan, one of the team's goals this season was to score at least 18 points every game by a combination of kills, serving aces and blocks. Against Highland, the Knights had just 27 kills, six blocks and three serving aces over the four games.

Jordan Kusan had 14 assists and Dani Lancia had eight kills to lead Ready.

Football team stays in playoff hunt

With a 42-0 victory over Fayetteville-Perry on Oct. 28, the football team improved to 7-3 and advanced to the postseason in Division VI, Region 23. The eighth-seeded Silver Knights will play at first-seeded Hannibal River (9-0).

The top eight teams in the region qualify for the playoffs, and Hannibal River, Beverly Fort Frye, Newark Catholic and Chesapeake already had locked up playoff spots heading into week 10, according to joeeitel.com.

Ready defeated Byesville Meadobrook 49-22 on Oct. 21.

Against Meadowbrook, Devin Dukes rushed for 359 yards and five touchdowns. He had 1,660 yards and 24 touchdowns heading into the Fayetteville game.

Ready last made the playoffs in 2013 under former coach Joel Cutler. The Knights went 5-4 in coach Brian Cross' first season in 2014 and 6-4 a year ago.

Cross country program losing just one senior

The cross country program should be in better shape participation-wise heading into next year after it started this season with just three boys and five girls.

By season's end, the Knights had enough participants for both teams to score and just one senior in Katie Perry of the girls team.

"My three, four and five runners on both teams dropped a lot of time from when they came into the season," coach Rich Green said. "The CCL and district meets are the top two meets we want to run well at and I think everybody performed well at both."

On Oct. 15 in the CCL meet at Otterbein, the boys were fifth (149) behind St. Charles (20), Watterson (45), DeSales (86) and Hartley (94) and the girls were fifth (143) behind Watterson (18), Columbus School for Girls (65), DeSales (70) and Hartley (78).

The girls then were 19th (527) in the 20-team Division III district meet Oct. 22 at Watkins Memorial behind champion Galion Northmor (77) as the top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to regional. The boys were 10th (239) in the 12-team district 1 meet behind champion Mount Gilead (19) as the top three teams and top 12 individuals moved on.

Sophomore Evan Cordle, who finished 27th (18 minutes, 43.69 seconds) at district, was the boys team's No. 1 runner. Also competing in the league and district meets were sophomores Grant Cordle, Daniel Hamilton and Dominic Tokar and freshman Fernando Arias.

Sophomore Brigitte Bowman was the girls team's No. 1 runner, finishing 76th (23:20.23) at district.

Also competing at district were junior Olivia French and sophomores Emily O'Connell and Abby Wasto. Sophomore Laney Stroud was unable to compete at district.

Girls soccer team losing just three seniors

With just three seniors, the girls soccer team nearly duplicated its record from a year ago.

The Knights lost to second-seeded Grandview 2-0 on Oct. 19 in the second round of the Division III district tournament to finish 8-10 overall after going 9-8 last season.

Ready went 1-3 in the CCL to finish fourth behind Watterson (4-0), DeSales (3-1) and Hartley (2-2) and ahead of CSG (0-4).

The senior class was comprised of Haley Meyer (forward/midfielder/goalkeeper), Caterina Scott (forward) and Maria Menke (midfielder). Scott will play for Wheeling Jesuit.

Meyer had eight goals and two assists to lead Ready in scoring. Menke had five goals and two assists, and Scott added four goals and two assists.

Junior Morgan Ritterbeck (center midfielder) had three goals and eight assists, and her junior sister Payton Ritterbeck (midfielder/forward) scored five goals.

Junior Ashley Buell (defen-der) scored two goals as the eighth-seeded Knights beat 10th-seeded Marion Pleasant 4-0 on Oct. 17 in the first round of the district tournament.

"We'll have eight seniors next year and we have three freshmen who are going to be really big contributors," said Benjamin Au, who is 23-29-1 in three seasons as coach. "We just didn't have much offense this year. Next year could be a good year."

Other key returnees should include juniors Dani Hall (defender), Kelly Huber (midfielder), Kim Lloyd (goalkeeper) and Natalee Patel (defender), sophomores Erica Saldano (defender) and McKenna Wheaton (forward) and freshmen Lindsey Bair (midfielder), Genesis Lopez (forward) and Katelyn Paul (midfielder).

Hall and Buell made first-team all-league, and Bair and Lloyd were second-team all-league. Hall and Lloyd were second-team all-district, and Buell made third-team all- district.

Boys soccer team aims to build on finish

After beginning the season with the minimum 11 players necessary to field a full team, the boys soccer squad finished with 14 players and won three of its final four regular-season games.

Ready went 5-9-2 overall and is eligible to return all but two players.

In the Division III district tournament, the 15th-seeded Knights lost to 11th-seeded Fisher Catholic 4-1 in a first-round game Oct. 18.

Ready also lost to the Irish 4-0 on Oct. 15 in its regular-season finale.

"The score didn't reflect it, but in the tournament game we scored pretty early and were up 1-0 for the whole first half," first-year coach Cameron VanTilburg said. "The tournament game was much better than the first time we played them."

Ready went 0-4 in the CCL, finishing behind co-champions DeSales and St. Charles (3-0-1) as well as Watterson (2-2) and Hartley (1-3).

VanTilburg's brother, Harrison VanTilburg, was a four-year starter at goalie who was joined in the senior class by defender Matt Picknell.

Juniors Clay Cutteridge (sweeper), Jordan Gantz (center midfielder) and Aaron Moehrman (left back) and freshman Bailey Garren (forward) should be among the top returnees.

Coach VanTilburg also is hoping for the return of junior Alan Delgado, who was Ready's leading scorer a year ago but was not eligible this season.

"I'm kind of tickled pink with how the boys played from the start of the season to the finish," coach VanTilburg said. "We had 11 guys for the first three or four games with no subs and they battled day in and day out."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

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