Bridget Javitch admitted not knowing what to expect from herself this season as she moved into a starting role for the DeSales High School girls volleyball team.
"It was pretty intimidating," said Javitch, a sophomore defensive specialist. "I wasn't expecting a lot out of this year, just to go through the flow and see what would happen. When the coaches told me my role, I tried to embrace it and help the team in any way I could. I think all my skills have improved. Coach (Brendan) Pence makes sure skills are our top priority. I can tell that's helped me."
Javitch was one of a handful of sophomores who contributed during the regular season for the Stallions, who were 14-8 entering the Division I district tournament.
Seeded 11th of 49 teams, DeSales took a first-round bye and played 10th-seeded Upper Arlington or 30th-seeded Teays Valley in the second round Oct. 17.
Both of the Stallions' starting middle hitters, Avery Boyd and Emma Schweitzer, are sophomores. Classmate Allison Weiner has played right-side hitter.
"We definitely have some youth in the program," Pence said. "We've just maintained to them all season the importance of maintaining our side of the net, not giving the opponent chances and not getting rattled by things going on. It's what we call the 'next touch' mentality. Forget whatever just happened and move on to the next point. Next touch, next opportunity."
Weiner had 87 kills and Boyd had 85 during the regular season to rank third and fourth on the team, respectively. Boyd led the Stallions with 54 blocks and Javitch had 181 digs and 23 aces.
DeSales took a bye to further heal from various injuries, although that meant playing only three matches between Sept. 29 and Oct. 17. According to Pence, senior libero Lainey McGonigle suffered a concussion during an Oct. 6 match against Olentangy Liberty but was expected to play the tournament opener.
"Our team really came together the past two or three weeks," McGonigle said. "We've worked a lot on out-of-system setting. We struggled with that earlier. We're working on going after every ball. I think everything needed some improvement."
Senior outside hitter Lexi Hall, who earlier this month committed to play volleyball and run track and field at Muskingum University, missed the first two weeks of the season after tearing three ligaments in her left ankle during the summer. She spent six weeks in a boot and underwent another three weeks of therapy.
"I worked myself into the lineup later in (matches) when the team would really need me. I ended up being completely fine," Hall said. "Now I'm just putting on a brace and going out there. There's no pain or anything."
The second-round winner plays ninth-seeded Dublin Scioto, 44th-seeded Briggs or 45th-seeded Walnut Ridge in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Franklin Heights. The district final is Oct. 27.
DeSales is seeking its eighth consecutive district championship and sixth in a row in Division I. "The girls might have been surprised by (our seed)," Pence said. "They're definitely motivated. They might have had a chip on their shoulder the last couple practices, which I like to see. It's a new fire for them."
Callahan runs to girls CCL title
Bre Callahan of the girls cross country team won the individual CCL championship Oct. 13 at Otterbein, leading DeSales to a runner-up finish at the league meet.
Callahan won in 20 minutes, 52.25 seconds, .54 of a second ahead of runner-up Emily Latshaw of Watterson. The Stallions scored 53 points to place second behind Watterson (30) and ahead of Columbus School for Girls (64), Hartley (71) and Ready (144).
Also scoring for DeSales were Anya Vanasdale (fifth, 21:31.53), Gracey Wilson (12th, 22:05.16), Cate Leithauser (17th, 22:32.64) and Audrey Callahan (18th, 22:33.72).
Led by John Shoemaker's runner-up finish in 17:07.82, the boys team finished third (64) in the league meet behind St. Charles (28) and Watterson (56) and ahead of Hartley (90) and Ready (137).
Ian McCandlish was fourth (17:23.18), followed by Jonathan Pusateri (18th, 18:42.38), Matt Stone (19th, 18:48.89) and Nico Cadena (21st, 19:11.45).
Both teams will participate in district meets Saturday, Oct. 20, at Hilliard Darby.
The girls will compete in Division I, district 3, from which the top six teams and top 24 individuals advance to regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North. The boys are in Division II, district 2, where the top four teams and top 16 individuals advance to regional.
Boys soccer team seeks tourney run
The boys soccer team is set to open the Division II district tournament as the top seed for the fifth consecutive year as it seeks its fourth state championship during that span.
DeSales, which is 13-3 overall, took a first-round bye in the 24-team district tournament and will play host to 15th-seeded Beechcroft or 17th-seeded Sparta Highland in the second round Saturday, Oct. 20.
The winner plays eighth-seeded Hartley, 13th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek or 16th-seeded London in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the home of the better seed. The district final is Oct. 27.
The Stallions defeated Hartley 3-0 on Oct. 2 to finish 3-1 in CCL play.
DeSales finished the regular season last week with two shutout wins, 2-0 over Hilliard Davidson on Oct. 11 and 1-0 over Cincinnati Indian Hill on Oct. 13.
Girls soccer team begins postseason
Having played arguably its best soccer the past three weeks, the girls soccer team began the Division I district tournament Oct. 15 with a first-round game at 25th-seeded Thomas Worthington.
The Stallions, who were seeded 26th of 44 teams, were 4-2 in their previous six games before wrapping up the regular season Oct. 11 with a 4-2 loss at Grove City. DeSales was 5-10-1 overall before playing Thomas.
The first-round winner visits fourth-seeded Dublin Coffman for a second-round game Thursday, Oct. 18. That winner will play 10th-seeded Olentangy Orange, 23rd-seeded Westerville South or 29th-seeded Chillicothe in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the home of the better seed. The district final is Oct. 27.
DeSales lost to Orange 5-1 on Sept. 29.
Girls golf season ends at district
Despite his team falling short of a Division I state tournament berth, girls golf coach Charlie Mitchell deemed the season a success considering the Stallions won both the CCL and Mid-Ohio Girls Golf League championships and returned to district for the first time since 2010.
Junior Paige Verfurth shot a 90 at district Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek, leading DeSales to a team score of 387 and a ninth-place finish behind champion New Albany (298) as nine teams scored.
"We checked all our boxes (for the season)," said Mitchell, who added that the team shot a 360 during a practice round at Cooks Creek on Oct. 7. "I have some hard-working girls. A couple of them are pretty disappointed because they didn't golf as well as they wanted, but we can't knock the year. They played very well."
Also scoring for the Stallions at district were sophomores Amanda Pancake (94) and Faith Corn (101) and senior Stephanie Circelli (102). Freshman Lizzy Gutman shot a 105.
The top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Friday, Oct. 19, and Saturday, Oct. 20, at Ohio State's Gray Course.
Orange (315) also advanced.
DeSales and Columbus School for Girls both went 7-1 in the CCL in the league's first year sponsoring the sport, but the Stallions shot a total of 751 in the two rounds of the league tournament to win the tiebreaker, 13 shots ahead of the Unicorns.