Despite suffering its first OCC-Ohio Division loss, the Grove City High School girls volleyball team controlled its championship destiny heading into its final two league matches.
The Greyhounds were 15-3 overall and 7-1 in the league before playing Pickerington Central on Oct. 9. They then close the regular season Thursday, Oct. 11, at Pickerington North, a team they defeated 25-15, 25-21, 16-25, 22-25, 15-12 on Sept. 25.
Central and Gahanna entered the week tied for second at 6-2.
Grove City is seeking its first OCC-Ohio title since 2014 when it finished 13-1 for its second league championship.
The Greyhounds went on to win a Division I district title, defeating Hilliard Davidson 25-16, 25-20, 16-25, 24-26, 15-12 before losing to DeSales 25-22, 25-20, 15-25, 25-13 in a regional semifinal.
Grove City is looking for similar success in the district tournament. It is seeded seventh of 49 teams and plays host to 42nd-seeded Columbus West in the first round Tuesday, Oct. 16.
"(Winning a league title) would mean a lot," senior defensive specialist Mya Linder said. "All five of us seniors, this is our year. We have an amazing team. We have basically the same team as last year, so it would mean a lot."
Gahanna handed the visiting Greyhounds their first league loss 25-17, 25-19, 23-25, 25-20 on Oct. 4. Grove City had defeated the Lions 18-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-16 on Sept. 13 at home in league play and 25-19, 25-17 on Sept. 15 in the Worthington Kilbourne Tournament.
"It's not often you lose a hard-fought match but you're still in the driver's seat for the league title," coach Alan Pham said. "That wasn't our best match, but we played well enough. Give (the Lions) a lot of credit. They made the adjustments from the last two times we played them."
Gahanna took control early in the third meeting, snapping a 7-all tie and never trailing again in the first game.
After losing the second game, Grove City remained alive by winning the third game, led by Molly Michalak.
Gahanna then closed out the match after snapping an 18-all tie in the fourth game.
"They're a really good team," Linder said. "Gahanna is always very scrappy, but we didn't play our best tonight. We had moments of it, but like we proved before on our good days, we can beat them."
Michalak led the Greyhounds with 14 kills, followed by Lauren Lucas and Jordyn Stonerock with eight apiece and Emily Parrett with seven. Kylie Chaney had 20 assists and Linder had 20 digs.
Through 18 matches, Michalak had 245 kills, followed by Lexi Bapst with 118 and Lucas with 104. Chaney led in assists with 299, followed by Kelli Schultz with 242, while Emily Scholl had 188 digs, Parrett had 47 blocks and Bapst had 35 aces.
"(Winning a league title) would be great," Pham said. "We've been close the last few years, but to have this senior class, who has never experienced it, to give that to them is really where we want to go."
Bane, Johnston compete at district
Boys golfers Jeremiah Bane and Ian Johnston qualified for the Division I district tournament by winning the first playoff hole in a sectional Oct. 2 at Darby Creek.
Bane and Johnston both shot 76 to finish in a four-way tie for the final three individual-qualifying berths. Both then shot par on the first playoff hole to advance to district Oct. 9 at Apple Valley.
"I'm really proud of both of them," coach Eric Joreski said. "Having to go to the playoff was a great learning experience with the pressure they faced. Obviously they both responded and performed with the pressure on them. They played their game and did not let any of the other players influence their decisions."
Kilbourne's John Catanzarite defeated Hilliard Bradley's Michael Chapman on the third playoff hole to earn the fourth and final individual-qualifying spot. Westerville North's Pierre Southibournnarth (74) also advanced.
Grove City finished seventh (330) of 13 teams behind champion Dublin Coffman (300) as the top four teams also moved on to district, where the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Saur earns berth in district golf tourney
Sophomore girls golfer Lizzie Saur earned her second Division I district berth by shooting a 78 in a sectional Oct. 2 at Royal American.
Saur competed Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek. The top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
"I'm happy with how I played (at sectional)," Saur said. "I just had a couple small things that I know I can improve on."
Grove City finished fourth (386) behind district-qualifiers Olentangy Orange (306), Dublin Jerome (335) and Davidson (360). Saur was one of three individuals to advance.
Last season at district, Saur tied for 33rd of 54 golfers with an 85.
"You always want to bring the whole team, but the girls have put in a lot of hard work this season and they all played really well today, so you can't ask for anything better than that," coach Megan Blaney said.
Girls tennis team closes season
The girls tennis team closed its season by competing in a Division I sectional Oct. 5 at Hilliard Bradley.
Coach Dan Witteman was pleased with his team's effort, as his players all won first-round matches and finished 1-1.
Senior Becca Bane and juniors Emma Smith and Lexi Townsend competed in singles. The doubles teams were comprised of seniors Jenna Stroud and Alaynah Burke and senior Emma Olander and junior Josie Susi.
"All seven of our players won a first-round match and, in my memory, that's the first time that's ever happened so I'm very pleased about that," said Witteman, who completed his 30th season. "There's very good competition here."
Grove City played the final three weeks of the season without junior first-singles player Olivia Norbut, who sustained a right-wrist injury in a 4-1 win over Westerville South on Sept. 12.
The Greyhounds finished 8-10 overall and went 1-4 in the OCC-Ohio to place fifth behind champion Pickerington North (5-0).
"We played some very strong teams all year -- not just in the OCC -- and down the road that helped us (at sectional)," Witteman said. "When you play good competition, it makes you better and it also gives you some confidence in playing. We played some of the best teams in the state. This will be very positive for the girls who will be back next year."
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City cross country, boys soccer and girls soccer teams:
Oct. 13 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Lancaster
Oct. 11 -- At Briggs
Oct. 17 -- At 14th-seeded Canal Winchester in first round of Division I district tournament. The Greyhounds are seeded 17th of 48 teams.
Oct. 11 -- Home vs. DeSales
Oct. 18 -- At 17th-seeded Pickerington Central or home vs. 28th-seeded Lancaster in second round of Division I district tournament. The Greyhounds are seeded 19th of 44 teams.