Westland girls volleyball coach Nicole Zumpano left the Division I district tournament draw Oct. 6 feeling good about her program and how it is viewed by her peers.
The Cougars are seeded 41st of 49 teams and will visit 19th-seeded Lancaster in the first round Tuesday, Oct. 15.
"Out of the three years I've been here, this is the one year which I felt a little bit more respect than I have in the last two," Zumpano said. "Coaches are paying attention to us and that we can be a threat."
The Westland-Lancaster winner plays at 17th-seeded Upper Arlington in the second round Thursday, Oct. 17. Zumpano and her team are familiar with the Golden Bears, having lost to UA 25-16, 25-17, 25-8 on Sept. 10 and 25-14, 25-19, 25-20 on Sept. 26 in OCC-Central Division play.
"The Lancaster match is winnable," Zumpano said. "I told my girls it is. We think we can beat them and play Upper Arlington on Thursday, and that's the plan. We couldn't thank our lucky stars enough that that was the draw that we were given."
The Cougars were 6-14 overall and 0-9 in the OCC-Central before closing the regular season Oct. 10 against Central Crossing.
Westland lost at Hamilton Township 25-14, 25-10, 25-14 on Oct. 9. The Rangers feature senior Sarah Morbitzer, who has committed to Ohio State.
"They have a great program (at Hamilton Township)," Zumpano said. "I've heard of Sarah, no surprise. She's (committed) to Ohio State. She's won a national championship with Mintonette (club) volleyball, so I knew that we had our hands full coming in."
Zumpano said the strong play of sophomore middle hitter Rylea Bott was a highlight in the match.
"Today was Rylea Bott's day and it was awesome," Zumpano said. "It was a great day for her."
Bott likes how the Cougars are playing and said she is looking forward to the postseason.
"We're better communicating with each other and I'm definitely better with my timing with (setter) Kenadee (Winters)," Bott said.
Through 18 matches, Alaina Russell led Westland in kills with 90, followed by Ashley DuMelle (75), Bott (60), Winters (38) and Olivia Fernandez (32).
Winters led in assists (270), Russell (28) and Kalista Prak (27) led in aces, Prak (203), Kaci Roush (157), Winters (146) and Russell (139) led in digs and Bott led in blocks with 34.
Football team to battle Comets
The football team will attempt to beat Central Crossing for the first time when the teams meet Thursday, Oct. 17, at Westland.
The Comets have won all 10 games in the series.
"If our kids can't be ready for that game then we won't be ready for anything," Westland coach Rick Rios said. "We're pretty excited about Central (Crossing). We know what kind of opportunity that is for us and the program, so that will definitely be a big one for us."
Westland was 1-5 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Marysville on Oct. 11, while Central Crossing was 2-4 overall and 0-1 in the league before playing Dublin Coffman the same night.
The Comets beat the Cougars 31-20 last season.
"I know we dug ourselves a big hole," Rios said. "We got behind big early in the first quarter and then battled our way out of it and made it a ballgame. We dug ourselves a 21-0 hole in the first six minutes of the game until we woke up. You can't do that against anybody."
The Cougars lost to UA 41-23 on Oct. 4 as quarterback Jason Cooper completed 14 of 29 passes for 251 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
"He played better," Rios said of Cooper's performance.
Robert Clark had 10 catches for 188 yards and Kyle Bowles had an 11-yard touchdown catch. Peterson Iresne rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
"We got back to work," Rios said. "There were a lot of positives for us to build off from (Oct. 4). We see signs of our young guys getting better."
Through six games, Cooper had completed 24 of 50 passes for 406 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. Buddy Workman had completed 22 of 42 passes for 261 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Iresne has rushed for 728 yards and six touchdowns on 105 carries, and Workman had rushed for 342 yards and six touchdowns on 51 carries.
Clark had 18 catches for 293 yards.
Central Crossing lost to Hilliard Davidson 35-0 on Oct. 4. The Comets managed just 78 yards of offense while allowing 302.
Girls tennis team concludes season
The girls tennis team closed its season by competing in a Division I sectional Oct. 3 at UA.
Seniors Samantha Khuon and Katie Murray each went 1-1 in singles, and senior Anna Ebert went 0-1.
In doubles, senior Genesis Perez and junior Kacey Flanagan and senior Anais Fernandez and sophomore Rachel Peshko each finished 1-1.
The Cougars finished 2-12 overall with wins against Franklin Heights (3-2 on Sept. 10) and Centennial (5-0 on Sept. 24). They went 0-5 in the OCC-Central to finish sixth behind champion UA (5-0).
Sophomore Bella Corona and freshmen Roxana Santiago Martinez and Nancy Angeles Santos also are eligible to return.
Below are the coming schedules for the Westland cross country, boys soccer and girls soccer teams:
Oct. 19 -- Boys: Division I, district 1 meet at Hilliard Darby. The top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North. Girls: Division I, district 2 meet at Darby. The top six teams and top 24 individuals advance to regional Oct. 26 at North.
Oct. 15 -- At 39th-seeded Northland in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays at second-seeded Olentangy Liberty in second round Oct. 17. The Cougars are seeded 40th.
Oct. 16 -- At 12th-seeded Hilliard Davidson in first round of Division I district tournament. The winner plays at 11th-seeded Grove City in second round Oct. 19. The 42nd-seeded Cougars lost to the Wildcats 13-0 on Oct. 3 and to the Greyhounds 10-0 on Sept. 3.