With just two matches remaining before the Division IV district tournament drawing Oct. 6, the Delaware Christian girls volleyball team understands that time is of the essence as it pursues a more consistent and cohesive offensive system.
One area the Eagles have relied on over and over again this season is their serving.
According to maxpreps.com, Delaware Christian has two of the top four players in the state in service aces, in junior outside hitter Abby Blackburn and junior setter/right-side hitter Erin Bauslaugh. Both players have more than 50 on the season.
In addition, junior setter Grace Williams and senior outside hitter Lyssi Snouffer also have more than 30 service aces.
"We've got to be faster and we've got to communicate better because we're not communicating (as) well (as we need to)," coach Jackie Boggs said. "I like how we serve. We've still got a lot we can do for the postseason."
The district tournament gets underway Oct. 17.
Snouffer, who averages 5.3 kills per set and had 226 kills through 16 matches, has been leading the Eagles' offense along with senior middle hitters Sloane Dellipaolo (123 kills), Allison Grover (84 kills) and Blackburn (60 kills).
Snouffer and sophomore defensive specialist/outside hitter Emma Rindfuss led in digs with 193 and 153, respectively, through 17 matches.
Delaware Christian was 16-1 overall and 7-0 in the MOCAL before playing Northside Christian on Sept. 26. A win over Northside Christian would have earned the Eagles at least a share of the league title after finishing as runner-up (8-2) last season behind Shekinah Christian (10-0).
Delaware Christian earned a season sweep of Shekinah Christian with a 25-13, 25-22, 25-17 victory on Sept. 24 and will conclude league play with matches Thursday, Oct. 3, at Tree of Life and Oct. 10 at Granville Christian.
Senior Abbi Maurer (outside hitter/right-side hitter) also has been a key contributor for the Eagles, who lost to Fredericktown 25-9, 25-20 on Sept. 21.
The Freddies are a Division III program that was 14-2 before playing Sparta Highland on Sept. 26.
Last season, Delaware Christian was the fourth seed in the district tournament but defeated second-seeded Shekinah Christian 25-16, 25-27, 25-19, 15-25, 16-14 in a district semifinal before falling to Fairfield Christian 25-23, 25-16, 24-26, 25-16 in the district final.
"I'm really proud of how we've grown from the summer up until now," Dellipaolo said. "We're hoping to get better at defense and learning how to read situations quicker."
Golfers set for postseason action
The boys golf team will open the postseason Wednesday, Oct. 2, in a Division III district tournament at Darby Creek. Because there weren't more than 16 teams in the district that have full rosters, there is no sectional tournament.
The Eagles are coming off a second consecutive MOCAL championship.
In a tri-match Sept. 24 at Darby Creek, Delaware Christian shot a 169 to finish ahead of Shekinah Christian (228) and Tree of Life (267), as junior Nathan Stewart was medalist with a 34. Senior Mitchell Smith was runner-up (39), senior Pryce Johnson placed third (48) and sophomore Dayne Johnson was fifth (50).
On Sept. 23, the Eagles lost to Sparta Highland 173-183 at Wyandot.
"I've seen our scores drop all season, so that's been good," coach Jonathan Smith said. "We're probably peaking at the right time. Our scores have definitely been dropping."
Last season, the Eagles finished fifth (415) in a seven-team sectional at Darby Creek as the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district. Stewart tied for fifth (81) at sectional to qualify individually for district, where he finished 15th (86) at Denison Golf Club.
"Nathan is a really good player," Smith said. "He's just been a consistent scorer. Normally for nine holes, he'll shoot right around par or 1 to 2 over, and for 18 holes, he's been in the low 70s. We're hoping he can advance (to state). Last year was a little frustrating because he advanced out to sectionals and went to district, but then just had a bad day (at district).
"All the other guys have done pretty well. We have a pretty stable first four that usually always scores (well)."
Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Christian boys golf and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 2 -- Division III district tournament at Darby Creek. The championship team and lowest-scoring individual not on the qualifying team advance to state Oct. 11 and 12 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Sept. 30 -- At Mount Gilead
*Oct. 3 -- At Tree of Life
Oct. 5 -- Home vs. Delaware