The Hilliard Bradley girls volleyball team has been going with the flow this season thanks to a pair of seniors.
Middle hitter Allie Holland and setter Riley Speelman are familiar with one another, having played together since they were in sixth grade, and have helped put the Jaguars in position to win their first league title since 2013.
"I love volleyball because I'm a really competitive person and it's a competitive sport like no other," Speelman said. "If you have really good team chemistry, everything will flow. Allie and I have known each other for so long, so we flow.
"Our team has been pretty much the same for the last two years. We all knew each other so much better this year that it's flowing so much better."
Bradley defeated Upper Arlington 20-25, 25-11, 25-21, 25-16 on Oct. 7 to improve to 18-2 overall and is 12-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division entering its regular-season finale Thursday, Oct. 10, at home against Darby. The Jaguars are tied for first in the league with Dublin Scioto, which closes league play Oct. 10 against Dublin Jerome.
"I think that we all get along so well," Holland said. "Even if it's not going our way, we can just pull each other back in and try not to get frustrated.
"... We have such good chemistry, we're always flowing together, and we're friends so if we get frustrated, we're good at bringing each other back in the game."
The 6-foot-4 Holland led the Jaguars in kills (232) and aces (37) through 19 matches. The University of Tennessee recruit also had 49 blocks and 89 digs.
"I have always been tall," Holland said. "I never really had an insane growth spurt. I just always have kept growing.
"Every single day someone asks me how tall I am and if I play basketball, which I don't. Overall, I like telling people how tall I am and telling them I play volleyball."
Speelman, a Duquesne recruit, had a team-high 521 assists as well as 55 kills, 30 aces and 119 digs through 19 matches.
"Allie and I were the same height in the sixth grade (5-9) and then I quit growing," Speelman said. "Setting is about placement no matter how big the player you are setting for. When I set for someone who is shorter, I hang the ball. When it's Allie, I can just get the ball right to her because she's already up in the air and ready for it."
The two started playing club together when they were in sixth grade, but Holland moved to South Carolina before her freshman season. After one year, her family moved back to central Ohio.
"We literally can read each other's mind," Holland said. "We always know where each other is. We have grown up together and had almost every single practice together since we were 10. I'm so used to her sets, she is so used to how high I go and where I have my speed. We work well together."
Coach RyAnne Ufferman said Holland and Speelman are the heartbeat of her team.
"Their experience, their enthusiasm for the game and their knowledge of the game is irreplaceable," Ufferman said. "We have two athletes who have played together at a high level for a long time.
"The best thing about them is they are such strong leaders for us that they are making adjustments for us on the court. Because they are seeing things, we're able to focus on even more and take our games to the next level."
The Jaguars are seeded fourth behind Olentangy Orange, DeSales and Watterson in the Division I district tournament. They open the postseason Tuesday, Oct. 15, at home against 45th-seeded Columbus West, with the winner playing host to 49th-seeded Franklin Heights in the second round Oct. 17.
"I think we're all pretty excited and confident going into the postseason," Speelman said. "We have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this. We're definitely ready."
Thai wins sectional title in girls tennis
Freshman Anh Thi Thai of the girls tennis team won the singles title in a Division I sectional held Oct. 3 and 5 at home.
Thai went 5-0, defeating Scioto's Nicole Santoso 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 in the final, to advance to the district tournament Thursday, Oct. 10, and Saturday, Oct. 12, at Reynoldsburg. At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles qualify for state Oct. 18 and 19 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Also in singles at sectional, Madison Kennedy and Nina Kisin both went 2-1. In doubles, Evelina Tumash and Jillian Wieta went 1-1 and Reyann Askar and Dhriti Sanyasi went 0-1.
Boys golfers end season at sectional
The boys golf team finished seventh (321) in a Division I sectional Oct. 1 at Darby Creek behind champion Dublin Coffman (299), as the top four teams and top four individuals not on those teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.
Darby (311) earned the final district berth.
Junior Tison Alexander and sophomore Griffin Dixon both shot a 79 to finish four strokes behind the final individual district qualifier. Also competing were senior Michael Chapman (81), junior Luke Lehman (82) and senior Tyler Mordarski (83).
Bradley finished third (20-8) in the OCC-Cardinal tournament behind Jerome (27-1) and Olentangy Berlin (22-6). Mordarski had a 77 average over the four rounds to earn first-team all-league honors. Chapman (78.5) made second team and Alexander (80.25) and Lehman (80.75) were on the third team.
Girls golfers finish seventh at sectional
The girls golf team finished seventh (382) in a Division I sectional Oct. 1 at Mentel Memorial behind champion UA (297), as the top three teams and top three individuals not on those teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.
Grove City (348) earned the final district berth.
Junior April Parkin led the Jaguars with an 89, finishing four strokes behind the final individual district qualifier. Also competing were junior Allie Waggener (96), seniors Rachael Rice (97) and Lindsey Thom (100) and junior Callie Hribar (102).
Bradley finished fourth (14-12) in the OCC-Cardinal tournament behind champion Jerome (27-1). Parkin had a 94.5 average over the four rounds to earn second-team all-league honors, while Waggener (97.5) and Hribar (100.5) both were honorable mention.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bradley cross country, boys soccer and girls soccer teams:
Oct. 12 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Davidson
*Oct. 10 -- Home vs. Darby
Oct. 15 -- At 14th-seeded New Albany in first round of Division I district tournament. The Jaguars are seeded 16th.
*Oct. 10 -- Home vs. Darby
Oct. 19 -- Home vs. 26th-seeded Delaware or 35th-seeded Mount Vernon in second round of Division I district tournament. The Jaguars are seeded 10th.