The Watterson High School boys volleyball team is showing that its improvement last season was a sign of things to come.

After more than doubling their victory total from 2016 last spring, the Eagles could be on their way to surpassing their 8-14 finish from a season ago.

"We're starting to settle into our rhythm, for sure," second-year coach Ryan Thompson said.

"We spent the first few games tweaking lineups and getting comfortable with play, and now we're ready to start going at teams full force. We've been extremely pleased with our serve receive and defensive play so far. We've made huge improvements on passing all around."

Watterson battled throughout a 25-21, 25-22, 25-23 loss at St. Charles on April 17. The Cardinals shared last year's CCL title with DeSales.

The Eagles were 5-5 overall before playing Licking Heights on April 24 and beat DeSales 25-15, 18-25, 25-23, 25-21 on April 20 to finish second in the CCL at 2-2.

Watterson, whose other league loss also was to St. Charles (25-19, 23-25, 26-24, 25-15 on March 27), beat the Stallions 21-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-11 on April 10 for its first league victory.

St. Charles was 3-0 and DeSales was 0-3 heading into their matchup April 24 that wrapped up CCL action.

Through eight matches, freshman setter Jake Maziarz had 168 assists and juniors Jack Brinkman (middle hitter) and Jared Sommer (right-side hitter/libero) led in kill efficiency, according to Thompson.

"Now that we have a lineup we're very comfortable with, we're going to keep pushing in the second half of the season to ensure we can jell as a team and lock up a solid postseason spot," Thompson said.

Boys lacrosse team puts pieces together

During the season's first half, the boys lacrosse team took the incremental steps forward that it was hoping to take.

The Eagles defeated Olentangy Orange 9-7 on April 19 but lost to Upper St. Clair (Pennsylvania) 8-7 on April 21 and were 5-4 overall before playing Cincinnati Summit Country Day on April 25.

Watterson lost its first two games and three of its first five before beating Bexley 17-3 on April 11 and Thomas Worthington 12-2 on April 13.

"We had a tough start, but I think (Bexley) was a crucial win and I think we're going to turn the season around before the playoffs," sophomore attacker Dominic Dean said. "It took time for us to blend, but now that our chemistry is combining, I think we're going to be doing well. We've had new leadership stepping up, and for the kids who were young on varsity last year, it's impressive to see how they've stood up this year."

Dean, who was a midfielder last season, had 21 goals through six games.

Senior attacker Paul Hamlett, who had six goals against Bexley, also has been a key player on offense.

Senior Frank Jobko and junior Barrett Baur are among the few returnees from last season and have been leading the defense, according to coach Chris Sauter.

"(Defense) was probably the most veteran part of our team and we're not giving up a lot (of goals)," Sauter said. "Frank Jobko and Barrett Baur played a lot of minutes last year and they've played up to the defensive standards we've set the last few years.

"We're excited about the growth of these guys. We had a lot of inexperience from last year with us losing 20 guys, so the pieces are all starting to come together and fall into place the way we thought they would."

Track teams off to solid starts

The boys and girls track and field teams have just two meets remaining before the CCL meet May 8 and 10 at Hartley.

On Friday, April 27, the Eagles will travel to Hamilton Township for the Ranger Invitational.

That is the same site where the boys and girls teams both captured titles March 27 in the Hamilton Township Booster Invitational.

The girls squad also captured the title in the 10-team Russ Owen Bexley Relays on April 13, scoring 99 points to edge the host Lions (96). The boys team finished fifth (45) in the meet, behind champion St. Charles (93).

In last week's area honor roll, freshman Kilyn McGuff was in the top 20 in the girls long jump (15 feet, 9 inches), freshman Erin Connors was among the leaders in the girls 300-meter hurdles (50.01 seconds) and the girls 400 (52.69), 1,600 (4:20.01) and 3,200 (10:30.7) relays all were among the leaders.

On April 20 in the 13-team Wildcat Invitational at Westerville South, the boys team scored 18 points to finish last behind champion Mason (162.5) and the girls finished fifth (62.5) behind champion Mason (172).

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Watterson baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, boys and girls track & field and boys volleyball teams:

BASEBALL

April 26 -- Home vs. Bexley

*April 27 -- Home vs. Ready. The Eagles beat the Silver Knights 13-0 on April 19.

April 28 -- Upper Arlington at Ohio State

*April 30 -- Home vs. St. Charles. The Eagles lost to the Cardinals 3-2 on April 18.

May 1 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian

*May 2 -- At Hartley

BOYS LACROSSE

May 1 -- At Pickerington Central

GIRLS LACROSSE

*April 26 -- At Columbus School for Girls

April 28 -- At Hilliard Darby

May 1 -- At Gahanna

SOFTBALL

April 28 -- At Reynoldsburg with Westerville South

*April 30 -- At DeSales. The Eagles beat the Stallions 7-0 on April 18.

May 1 -- Home vs. Grandview

BOYS TENNIS

April 26 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne

April 30 -- At Pickerington North

*May 1 -- Home vs. Hartley

May 2 -- At Central Crossing

TRACK & FIELD

April 27 -- Ranger Invitational at Hamilton Township

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

April 27 -- Home vs. Briggs

May 1 -- At New Albany

*League contest