The Hilliard Darby High School boys volleyball team captured its 18th consecutive league championship by defeating Thomas Worthington 25-2, 25-12, 25-11 on May 3.
The Panthers were 14-5 overall and 11-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing at Bradley on May 8.
Darby overcame an injury to setter Noah Platfoot along the way to its league title.
"We lost Noah for three or four weeks because of a pulled hamstring and we should get him back soon and have him ready for the postseason," first-year coach Evan Bell said. "Nick Ferko stepped in and has done a very good job trying to keep our rhythm. It says a lot about this program that he was ready to step in and not miss a beat.
"We haven't even lost a set in the OCC-Cardinal and our kids pride themselves on being ready daily no matter who the opponent is. Winning the league never gets old. Others may take it for granted, but we don't. Even though we have bigger goals than the league, it's an accomplishment our kids should enjoy. It's been quite a run."
While Platfoot is eager to rejoin his teammates on the court, he has noticed changes from the sideline.
"Colin Buelow has stepped up as a leader," Platfoot said. "He's playing really good volleyball and he is communicating very well. Nick Ferko is a great backup setter who is communicating well and getting the ball where it needs to go on the floor.
"I've seen the progress everyone has made in terms of preparation, technique and focus. We have to remain focused on improving every day to get to state and accomplish everything we want to accomplish this year. I can't wait to get back out there with my brothers."
The Panthers played Olentangy on May 9 and will face the Braves again in the OCC-Challenge on Tuesday, May 15, at home. In between, Darby will compete in a tri-match at Clayton Northmont with Cincinnati Elder on Saturday, May 12.
The Division I regional draw is Monday, May 14.
"We've got some important matches coming up in terms of seeding for the state tournament," Bell said. "I think we'll be ready to go. I think we're getting better defensively and should hit our stride in time for the tournament.
"Our libero, Nick Hermosilla, has been phenomenal. We asked him to become more aggressive and we put a lot of pressure on him defensively. He's really seeking every ball out there and no longer waiting for a teammate to get some of them. He has taken command on defense and that has really helped us progress in that area."
Baseball team begins postseason
The second-seeded baseball team was 18-3 overall before playing host to 42nd-seeded Logan in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 9. The Panthers had a first-round bye.
The winner plays14th-seeded Teays Valley or 21st-seeded St. Charles in a district semifinal Monday, May 14, at a neutral site to be determined.
That winner likely will play ninth-seeded Olentangy or 13th-seeded Canal Winchester in a district final Wednesday, May 16, at a neutral site to be determined.
The Panthers beat St. Charles twice during the regular season, 5-4 on April 26 and 3-2 in nine innings on April 28, but lost to Olentangy 2-0 on May 5.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 24 at Coffman.
The loss to the Braves was Darby's third in a row, following a pair of OCC-Cardinal losses to Bradley (7-6 in 10 innings on April 30 and 6-5 on May 2). Despite the losses to the Jaguars, the Panthers finished 9-3 in the OCC-Cardinal to win the outright league title.
Darby defeated Davidson 8-4 on May 7.
Ben Gbur allowed just three hits against Olentangy and took the loss, but Braves pitcher Logan Ketron limited the Panthers to three hits.
It was the first loss of the season for Gbur, who was 6-1 with a 1.19 ERA in 47 innings pitched entering the week.
Through 22 games, offensive leaders were Mason Bowers (.404 batting average, 13 RBI), Brice Stultz (.391, 16 RBI), Ian Coverstone (.371, 18 runs scored), Gbur (.342, 18 runs, 21 RBI, 5 doubles, 2 home runs), Tim Hales (16 RBI) and Tyler Chumita (21 runs, 13 RBI).
On the mound, Stultz was 3-0 with a 3.05 ERA in 20 2/3 innings, Chandler Barlow was 3-1 with a 2.95 ERA in 38 innings and Seth Schmidt was 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 14 innings.
Softball team falls shy of league title
The softball team missed an opportunity to win the OCC-Cardinal championship.
Darby finished 9-3 in the league to place third behind co-champions Bradley and Delaware (both 10-2). The Panthers lost their final three league contests, falling to host Delaware 11-1 on May 1 and Bradley 14-5 on May 2 and 9-5 on May 3.
On May 2, Darby scored three runs in the top of the fifth to cut its deficit to 6-5 at Hilliard Municipal Park, as Tegan Cortelletti hit a solo home run and Bri Pizzurro hit a two-run homer. However, the Jaguars scored one run in the fifth and seven in the sixth.
In the rematch the next day at Darby, the Panthers scored four runs in the third inning to take a 4-1 lead, as Molly Holdren hit a two-run single, Mikayla Kessel hit an RBI triple and Pizzurro followed with an RBI double. However, Bradley rallied to tie the score at 4 and then scored four runs in the sixth inning.
"It's disappointing to not win at least one of the three games to earn at least a share of the OCC championship, but you have to credit Bradley because they hit the ball in the clutch and timed up our pitching the third time through the lineup," coach Shawn Papp said. "... But we're hitting the ball and we will feel fine going into the (Division I district) tournament. We can turn the page and get right back after it."
The eighth-seeded Panthers were 13-8 overall before playing host to 16th-seeded Pickerington Central in the second round of the district tournament May 9.
The winner plays 11th-seeded Watkins Memorial or 27th-seeded Westerville North in a district semifinal Monday, May 14, at a neutral site to be determined.
That winner likely will face top-seeded Marysville in a district final May 18 or 19 at Pickerington Central.
The Panthers entered the postseason on a four-game losing streak after falling to Westerville Central 4-2 on May 4.
Boys tennis team set for sectional
Members of the boys tennis team will compete in a Division I sectional Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12, at Pickerington Central, where seniors Tom Ohler and Krishna Revur will be seeking a return trip to the district tournament.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 17 at Bradley and May 19 at Upper Arlington.
At sectional, Ohler is seeded fourth in singles and will open against Grove City's Tyler Faulk or Marietta's Eric Delong.
Also in singles, Revur will play Olentangy Liberty's Marclo Aguilar and Shyam Pandya will face St. Charles' Will Prophater in first-round matches.
In first-round doubles matches, Ebun Obisesan and Ishan Somani will play Canal Winchester's Zeke Blanchard and Devin Mullett, and Noah Adams and Srikrishna Kondaveeti will play Delaware's Danny Brennan and Will Fogle.
Track teams set for OCC, district meets
The boys and girls track and field teams will compete in the OCC-Cardinal meet Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12, at Coffman.
The Panthers then will shift their focus to the Division I district meet next week at home.
The girls team will compete in district 1, which begins with running preliminaries Tuesday, May 15, continues with field events May 17 and concludes with running finals May 19.
The boys team will compete in district 2, which starts with field events May 15, continues with running preliminaries Wednesday, May 16, and concludes with running finals May 19.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional meet May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North.
The Panthers competed in the eight-team Bradley Invitational on May 4. The boys team finished seventh (44) behind champion Bradley (124), while the girls team placed eighth (29) behind champion Marysville (111).
Winning for the boys were Michael Cornathan in the shot put (47 feet, 4 1/4 inches), Chris Burkhart in the discus (158-4) and the 400-meter relay of Clint Barnett, Seveon Stewart, Jaeln Benjamin and Lucas Fratianne (44.06 seconds). Paul Dillion placed third in the shot put (44-9 1/2).
For the girls, placing second were Liz Silva in the shot put (32-3) and Kathryn Kline in the high jump (4-8), while Jenna Hart was third in the long jump (14-5).
Below are the coming schedules for the Darby boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and boys volleyball teams:
May 11 -- Home vs. Davidson
May 15 -- At sixth-seeded Westerville Central in first round of Division I, Region 3 tournament. Winner plays fifth-seeded Davidson or 19th-seeded Newark in second round May 18 at home of higher seed. The Panthers are seeded seventh.
May 10 -- Home vs. Centennial
May 15 -- At sixth-seeded Dublin Scioto in first round of Division I, Region 3 tournament. Winner plays fourth-seeded Springboro or 13th-seeded Davidson in second round May 18 at home of higher seed. The Panthers are seeded 10th.
May 12 -- At Clayton Northmont with Cincinnati Elder
May 15 -- Home vs. Olentangy in OCC Challenge