RyAnne Ufferman's return as coach of the Hilliard Bradley High School girls volleyball team this season has coincided with the Jaguars' first appearance in a Division I district semifinal since 2014.
Ufferman coached the Jaguars for six seasons before stepping down after the 2014 season to spend more time with her family. But while she has guided the team back to a district semifinal for the first time in four years, she insists the credit goes to her players for being able to execute and work together as a unit.
"The difference we are starting to see is that we are playing together," said Ufferman, whose 17th-seeded Jaguars were 14-10 before playing top-seeded Olentangy Liberty in a district semifinal Oct. 23 at Franklin Heights. "I introduced them to some different ways of teaching skills and a different team approach to the ball.
"Sometimes when kids are trying to process that, they are so worried about thinking about themselves and what their body is doing that sometimes they forget that they have to function as one unit. I think we're coming together as a team and working together on the court. Instead of being six different parts, we're starting to be a unit."
Allie Holland, a 6-foot-4 junior middle blocker and University of Tennessee recruit, said there is a noticeable difference in the Jaguars from the start of the season.
"You can really see the progress we have made throughout the season," she said. "Our energy is a lot higher and our defense is getting a lot better."
The Jaguars swept their first two postseason matches at home, defeating 24th-seeded Davidson 25-13, 25-19, 25-19 in the first round of the district tournament Oct. 15 and 41st-seeded Central Crossing 25-13, 25-18, 25-16 in the second round Oct. 18, to reach a semifinal.
Against the Comets, Holland had 16 kills, five blocks and three aces, junior setter Riley Speelman had 21 assists and five aces and junior middle blocker Bella Colombini and sophomore middle blocker Anna Alford both had five kills.
"I think we all have bonded and done everything in practice to keep getting better," Speelman said. "You can really see it with our defense. There are so many balls that we played (against Central Crossing) that we wouldn't have gotten to earlier in the year. Our hustle has gotten so much better."
The semifinal winner faces ninth-seeded Dublin Scioto or 11th-seeded DeSales in a district final Saturday, Oct. 27, at Franklin Heights. The district champion plays Dublin Coffman, Newark, Pickerington North or host Worthington Kilbourne in a regional semifinal Nov. 1.
Bradley lost to Scioto 25-18, 25-14, 25-19 on Sept. 6 and 25-19, 23-25, 25-15, 25-22 on Oct. 9 in OCC-Cardinal Division play.
Spaulding runs to regional meet
Haydon Spaulding will represent the boys cross country team in the Division I regional meet Saturday, Oct. 27, at Pickerington North.
Spaulding finished 15th (16 minutes, 48.4 seconds) of 97 runners in the district 1 meet Oct. 20 at Darby, where the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to regional.
At regional, the top 20 individuals advance to state Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.
The Jaguars finished seventh (192 points) of 13 teams at district, behind champion Gahanna (63), as Olentangy (115) earned the final regional berth.
Eli Schneider (36th, 17:33.5) was next for Bradley, followed by Joshua George (40th, 17:38.4), Dryden Sawchuk (47th, 17:57.5), Caden Burkhart (54th, 18:07.9), Robby Klise (59th, 18:16.0) and Zeke Bennett (73rd, 189:11.3).
Grace Michel led the girls team in the district 2 meet, placing 25th (20:29) to finish one spot shy of qualifying for regional, as the top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced. Marysville's Mary Eichorn was 24th (20:25.2).
Bradley finished 11th (282) of 16 teams, behind champion Granville (34), as Westerville North (175) earned the final regional berth.
Also competing for the Jaguars were Isabella Brooks (46th, 21:12.1), Amber Figueroa (61st, 21:43.9), Kate Hittie (71st, 22:03.8), Sonja Maragos (79th, 22:52.6), Audrey Schmidt (87th, 23:17.8) and Ella Richardson (98th, 25:05.6).
Boys soccer team plays in semifinal
The 10th-seeded boys soccer team was 11-5-2 before playing eighth-seeded Westerville Central in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 24.
The winner plays top-seeded Liberty or 12th-seeded Darby in a district final Saturday, Oct. 27, at a neutral site. The district champion faces Grove City, Olentangy, Pickerington North or Thomas Worthington in a regional semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 31, at Dublin Jerome. The regional final is Nov. 3.
Bradley defeated Thomas 2-1 on Aug. 28, beat Darby 2-1 on Oct. 9 and lost to Olentangy 4-1 on Oct. 11.
Jordan Mendez scored three goals to lead the Jaguars past 42nd-seeded Briggs 8-2 in the first round of the district tournament Oct. 17, and goalkeeper Dominic Williams had eight saves and also stopped two penalty kicks during the shootout to lead Bradley past 17th-seeded Gahanna 1-0 in the second round Oct. 20 at home.
The Jaguars outscored Gahanna 4-3 in the shootout.
Season ends for girls soccer team
The 13th-seeded girls soccer team lost 2-1 at sixth-seeded Davidson in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 18 to finish 8-8-2.
Sophomore forward Avery Jantonio scored for the Jaguars and junior goalie Emily Keck had seven saves.
Jantonio led Bradley with seven goals, followed by senior midfielder Andrea Decker and junior forwards Lauren Cerda and Macy Enneking with five apiece. Junior midfielder Morgan Bowers scored four goals and senior defender Leah Dimmick scored three.