With his team preparing for the Division I district tournament, Westerville Central High School girls volleyball coach Girard Iquina sees reasons for optimism.
The Warhawks have improved in the second half of the season and have returned to full strength.
They were 8-11 overall and 3-6 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Westerville South on Oct. 10. They also were looking for a sweep of their Westerville rivals and already had surpassed last's season win total when they finished 7-16.
"We wanted to improve from last year and be able to flow as a team come tournament time," said Iquina, whose team closes the regular season Thursday, Oct. 12, at Hilliard Bradley.
Central is seeded 23rd of 50 teams for the district tournament and has a first-round bye. It will play 17th-seeded Upper Arlington or 22nd-seeded Bradley in the second round Oct. 19.
A key loss to injury was junior outside hitter Avrey Schumacher, who suffered a left high ankle sprain during a preseason practice and missed the first four matches before returning Aug. 31 against Gahanna. She saw limited time in her first matches back before returning to an all-around role, Iquina said.
"I feel good," Schumacher said. "We're getting ready for the tournament. We're preparing in practice and we're definitely getting better."
Schumacher helped lead the Warhawks to two wins against Westerville North and one in the first meeting with South.
Through 19 matches, Madison Saunders and Riley Kindall led Central in kills with 159 apiece. Schumacher had 155 digs, 87 kills and 12 aces, and Hayle Tillman had 266 assists, 64 kills, 28 aces and 17 blocks.
"Now that Avrey is back, she's been a strong gamer," Iquina said. "Riley Kindall as a freshman has been pretty productive as a hitter as well as Madison Saunders, so my two outside hitters have done really well. Hayle Tillman, a sophomore, plays all the way around and has been doing an awesome job."
Iquina was pleased with his team's effort in a 25-10, 25-20, 25-16 loss to visiting Olentangy Liberty on Oct. 5.
"We definitely competed a lot better overall," said Iquina, whose team lost at Liberty 25-13, 25-8, 25-17 on Sept. 14. "I told them not to hang their heads, you gave it your all, they were just able to execute much cleaner than us. This is just getting us ready for the (district) tournament."
The Patriots were 8-1 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Olentangy on Oct. 10 in their league finale. Liberty was tied for first with Olentangy Orange, which closed league play Oct. 10 against North.
Boys golf team competes at district
The boys golf team competed in the Division I district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley, with the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advancing to state Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
The Warhawks earned the district berth by finishing second (314) of 13 teams in the Darby Creek sectional Oct. 3 behind Dublin Jerome (280) and ahead of Hilliard Davidson (319) and Pickerington North (320). The top four teams advanced to district.
Zach Wengerter led the Warhawks with a 72, followed by Jacob Kenneally (80), Mwangi Kihara (80), Nick Altenbach (82) and Josh Qian (85).
Girls golfer earns district berth
Girls golfer Grace Welty earned a district berth by shooting an 83 in the Division I sectional Oct. 3 at Westchester.
Welty tied Lancaster's Vivian George for ninth of 55 golfers. They advanced along with Teays Valley's Allee Sprague (84).
The Warhawks finished fourth (350) of 11 teams behind district-qualifiers UA (307), New Albany (328) and Pickerington North (347).
Kelly Linnabary (85), Katelyn Neil (90), Anna Borders (92) and Terryn Witherspoon (105) also competed.
At district, the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
Girls tennis team competes at sectional
The girls tennis team concluded its season by competing in a Division I sectional Oct. 6 at Pickerington Central.
Levi Burks led the Warhawks in singles by going 2-1 and falling one win short of a district berth.
In doubles, Nikita Nair and Vivian Baker also came within one win of qualifying for district, finishing 2-1.
Also in singles, Shayla Ta finished 1-1 and Priya Bhattal went 0-1. In doubles, Carley Weiler and Haley Prue went 1-1.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central cross country, boys soccer and girls soccer teams:
Oct. 14 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Darby
Oct. 21 -- Home vs. 44th-seeded Northland in second round of Division I district tournament. The Warhawks are seeded 11th.
Oct. 16 -- At 14th-seeded Hilliard Davidson in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays at 10th-seeded Canal Winchester in second round Oct. 19. The Warhawks are seeded 23rd.