Sidney Gossard fell for a possible ruse, but couldn't be happier.

The senior middle blocker for the Olentangy Orange High School girls volleyball team was only a third-grader when she wanted to sign up for youth soccer, but her mother had other ideas. Laurie Gossard forgot about the soccer signup and steered her daughter toward volleyball, a sport Laurie grew up playing.

"Apparently when I was younger I was leaning toward soccer, and my mom missed that registration so she tried to talk me into playing volleyball," Gossard said. "We were talking about that the other day, and I never knew that. I could not imagine playing a different sport."

Gossard has made the most of her chosen sport. She's a four-year varsity player and a three-year starter for the Pioneers, who are looking to win a third consecutive Division I district title.

The 5-foot-8 Gossard had 135 kills and a team-high 118 blocks last year. Through 20 matches this fall, she had a team-high 56 blocks and 68 kills.

"I think she has probably been one of the most consistent players in her four years for us," said coach Katie Duy, whose team was 15-5 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Olentangy on Oct. 9. "She always works hard in practice and does her job well. In the last three years, she was the one we wanted to take that swing with the game on the line."

Gossard likes the camaraderie displayed on the court. She said that comes from teammates working together toward a common goal.

"I like how much that volleyball is team-based," she said. "It's a sport that's not built around one all-star athlete. You can't always control who gets the ball.

"I also like how you cheer and come together after every point. It makes it more fun to be in the competition together."

The Pioneers were seeking a fourth consecutive league title but Liberty, the top seed in the district tournament, was 8-0 in the OCC-Buckeye entering a match Oct. 9 against Westerville Central.

Orange, which is seeded fourth in the district, had a rough early schedule that it had to face without three-year starting setter Carrigan O'Reilly. The senior returned in mid-September.

"I think we started out a little rocky, and the schedule was tough," said Gossard, whose team wraps up league play Thursday, Oct. 11, against Westerville North. "I think we were expecting to be good and apparently we should just win.

"We had to figure out what was working for us and that was a process. Carrigan getting hurt wasn't the best situation, but (freshman) Hanna (Borer) stepped up when we needed her to do that."

The Pioneers have a first-round bye in the district tournament. They open Oct. 18 at home against 32nd-seeded Marysville or 34th-seeded North.

"We have a special bond with coach Duy," said Gossard, who was a freshman when Duy took over the program. "We have grown up learning how to win in club and middle school, and coach Duy helped us keep that mindset. It was easier for us to buy into what she was trying to focus on. It's about high school ball being where we get so much better because we're playing for so much more than just us.

"The main difference between club and high school ball is who you are playing for. In high school ball, you have the whole school and community behind you. You get to play with all the kids you grew up with instead of people from other schools or from an hour and half away that you see three times a week. That means a lot."

Tennis team sweeps into district tourney

The girls tennis team took the top three places in singles and the top two spots in doubles in a Division I sectional tournament Oct. 5 and 6 at Pickerington Central to qualify for district on all courts.

The district tournament is Thursday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 13, at Reynoldsburg. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

Freshman Niki Bhimireddy went 5-0 to win the sectional championship, defeating freshman teammate Tyler Reed 6-2, 6-2 in the final. Reed finished 4-1.

Junior Hannah Logan also went 4-1, finishing third by defeating Marion Harding's Maggie Pitts 6-1, 4-0 (retired) in the consolation final.

The second-seeded doubles team of senior Livie Mauger and sophomore Caroline Sproule defeated its top-seeded junior teammates, Kortney Reed and Erin Storrer, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in the final to go 4-0 at sectional. Reed and Storrer finished 3-1.

Girls golf team wins sectional title

The girls golf team tried to reach its fourth consecutive Division I state tournament when it competed Oct. 9 in the district at Cooks Creek.

The top two teams and top two individuals not on those teams qualified for state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Gray Course.

The Pioneers have won the last two state championships.

Orange shot 306 to win a sectional title Oct. 2 at Royal American. Dublin Jerome (335) and Hilliard Davidson (360) also moved on to district.

Ashley Au and Riley Dean tied for low score (70). Natalia Sompolvorachai (74), Natalie Au (92) and Sydney Krupp (105) also competed.

Boys golfers finish second at sectional

The boys golf team competed in the Division I district tournament Oct. 9 at Apple Valley.

The top two teams and top two individuals not on those teams advanced to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.

The Pioneers shot 308 to finish second in a sectional Oct. 2 at Denison Golf Club behind Jerome (290). Davidson (315) and New Albany (316) also moved on to district.

Corbin Bentley led Orange with a 74, ahead of Alex Cabungcal (76), Nathan Brown (78), Jonathan Green (80) and Jake Smith (83).

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Orange cross country, field hockey, boys soccer and girls soccer teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Oct. 13 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Davidson

FIELD HOCKEY

Oct. 16 -- Home vs. 11th-seeded Dublin Jerome in second round of district tournament. Winner plays fourth-seeded Watterson or 16th-seeded Dublin Scioto in district semifinal Oct. 23. The Pioneers are seeded sixth.

BOYS SOCCER

Oct. 11 -- Home vs. Jerome

Oct. 18 -- Home vs. 22nd-seeded Davidson or 38th-seeded White-hall in second round of Division I district tournament. The 16th-seeded Pioneers have a first-round bye.

GIRLS SOCCER

Oct. 11 -- At Thomas Worthington

Oct. 18 -- Home vs. 25th-seeded Thomas or 26th-seeded DeSales in second round of Division I district tournament. The 10th-seeded Pioneers have a first-round bye.

*League contest