An enthusiastic coach Nicole Zumpano supported her Westland girls volleyball team as it competed against Central Crossing on Sept. 17 at home.
Zumpano, who is in her third season, believes she has the Cougars on an upswing entering the second half of the season.
Westland was 5-9 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Marysville on Sept. 19.
"We're heading in the right direction," Zumpano said. "It's going to take a little bit more work and a little bit more time, but I think we're going to get there."
Westland put up a fight against the Comets, holding leads in all three sets before losing the league match 26-24, 25-17, 25-19.
"(Central) Crossing is always a great match for us," Zumpano said. "It was nice for the students to really come together and to have the support in the gym like we did tonight. It was awesome."
The Cougars bounced back to defeat visiting Groveport 20-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-7 on Sept. 18 to end a five-match losing streak.
Zumpano and her players are looking for improved play in league action after finishing 1-9 in each of the previous two seasons and 0-10 in 2016.
"A league win is always a good win," Zumpano said. "We're getting there. We just have to be able to finish."
With five wins before playing Marysville, Westland already had matched last season's win total when it went 5-18 and was looking to surpass its most wins since 2014 when it finished 9-15.
Sophomore setter Kenadee Winters, who had a team-high 178 assists through 12 matches, has been among the leaders this season.
"I couldn't ask for anything more from my team," Winters said. "We fight for everything. ... Our goal is to work together, talk and just have fun."
Senior defensive specialist Kalista Prak led in digs (133), sophomore outside hitter Alaina Russell led in kills (56) and aces (18) and sophomore middle hitter Rylee Bott led in blocks (22).
"Alaina Russell does it all for us," Zumpano said. "She's been amazing. Kenadee Winters, our setter, goes for every single ball. She never gives up. She doesn't know how to stop and it's quite awesome."
At 5-foot-10, Bott gives in the Cougars a presence at the net.
"She's been fantastic," Zumpano said. "She's been absolutely amazing."
Winters credits Zumpano for the program's progress.
"She gives us the best advice," Winters said. "She always cheers us on."
Football team to face Pioneers
The football team will prepare for its OCC-Central schedule by visiting Olentangy Orange on Friday, Sept. 27, for its final non-league contest.
The Cougars were 1-2 before playing Franklin Heights on Sept. 20, and Orange was 2-1 before playing Big Walnut that night.
Westland, which lost to Orange 41-12 last season, played without several key players in a 49-6 loss at Delaware on Sept. 13, including quarterback Buddy Workman and running back Peterson Iresne. Both were out with injuries.
Wide receiver Kyle Bowles left the game early on with a knee injury.
Coach Rick Rios was hoping all three would return against Franklin Heights.
"We have to get back to work, we have to get healthy," Rios said. "At one point (against Delaware) we had nine sophomores on the field defensively. It wasn't good."
Jason Cooper replaced Workman at quarterback and was 6-for-10 passing for 100 yards and two interceptions.
"It was a good experience for him and it will probably be good down the road," Rios said. "It was a larger moment for him than he was ready for."
Jack Little scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.
Iresne had rushed for 382 yards and three touchdowns on 49 carries through three games. Workman had rushed for 339 yards and six touchdowns on 45 carries and completed 12 of 27 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns.
Little had four catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.
Orange lost to Pickerington North 38-17 on Sept. 13. Quarterback Spencer Hawkins had 52 rushing on 12 carries, including a 44-yard touchdown, and was 11-for-25 passing for 99 yards with one interception.
Henry Groce had four carries for 68 yards and Jake Vanchieri gained 47 yards on 14 carries with one score. Caden Konczak had six receptions for 68 yards.
Jaynes resigns as girls basketball coach
Matt Jaynes has stepped down as girls basketball coach after three seasons.
Jaynes, who was a part-time in-school suspension aide at Westland, has accepted a position as a full-time special education teacher at Teays Valley.
Under Jaynes, the Cougars went 11-58 overall and 0-30 in the OCC-Central.
"I had a good group of girls coming back this year and we were looking for a good number of wins," Jaynes said. "They started learning basketball."
Before taking over at Westland, Jaynes coached at Briggs for seven seasons, serving one year as a boys assistant and one year as a girls assistant before leading the girls program for five seasons. He compiled a 56-60 record with the Bruins.
Jaynes said he will remain in his role as president of the District 10 Coaches Association. He eventually would like to return to coaching.
"I love coaching, it's my passion," he said. "I run a youth program. I love teaching, I love coaching, but it obviously wasn't in the cards for me this year."
Athletics director Brian Lowery said the search has begun for Jaynes' replacement. The first day of practice is Oct. 25.
Below are the coming schedules for the Westland cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 25 -- Rick Mettle Invitational at Walnut Ridge
Sept. 28 -- Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Sept. 25 -- Groveport at Groveport Links
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington
Sept. 26 -- At Franklin Heights
Sept. 28 -- At Teays Valley
*Sept. 24 -- At UA
Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Marion Harding
Sept. 24 -- At Centennial
Sept. 26 -- At Teays Valley
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman. The Cougars lost to the
Shamrocks 25-12, 25-15, 25-6 on Sept. 5.
*Sept. 26 -- At UA. The Cougars lost to the Golden Bears 25-16, 25-17, 25-8 on Sept. 10.