Since junior libero Sydney Taylor rejoined the Watterson girls volleyball team in mid-September after missing 10 matches while playing for a national team, the Eagles have gone 15-1.

One opponent Watterson hasn't played since her return is DeSales, but that will change Thursday, Oct. 31, when the teams meet in a Division I regional semifinal at Worthington Kilbourne.

The Eagles, seeded third in the district tournament, won each of their first four postseason matches in three sets, including a 25-23, 25-21, 25-21 win over seventh-seeded Dublin Scioto in a district final Oct. 26 at Central Crossing.

"I really just think it's been all about our chemistry," junior right-side hitter Olyvia Kennedy said. "Coming off of winning district last year, it motivated us a little bit more."

The Watterson-DeSales winner will play Olentangy Liberty or Olentangy Orange in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2, at Kilbourne. The regional champion faces Akron Hoban, Solon, Canton GlenOak or Painesville Riverside in a state semifinal Nov. 8 at Wright State.

The Eagles, who never have won a regional title, are 21-5.

Watterson lost both CCL matches against DeSales without having Taylor in its lineup, falling 25-15, 24-26, 25-15, 25-16 on Sept. 3 and 25-20, 25-16, 25-12 on Sept. 12.

Senior Abby Stratford, a move-in from Florida and a 6-foot-2 middle hitter, has been one of the Eagles' top hitters. Freshmen Mercedes Motton (middle hitter) and Ava Hoying (outside hitter) also have played key roles.

"I've just been pleased with how we've been dealing with adversity," coach Stephanie Grieshop said. "I'm excited to see how this plays out."

Garey set to run in state meet

Will Garey will represent the boys cross country team in the Division II state meet Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway.

The junior finished 15th of 169 runners in 16 minutes, 41.3 seconds in the regional meet Oct. 26 at Pickerington North as the top 28 individuals advanced to state.

"I've been working hard throughout the summer and season for these kinds of races," Garey said.

Garey, who also competed at state as a freshman when the Eagles qualified as a team, was joined at regional by freshman Eden Brush of the girls team.

In the Division I girls race, Brush finished 103rd of 130 runners in 21:08.4.

"Eden Brush was knocked down twice in the first 400 meters, but still got up and improved her time (from Sept. 28 at the Panther Invitational) on the Pickerington North cross country course by 1:29," coach Matt McGowan said.

Girls soccer season ends in district final

After reaching a Division I state semifinal last season, the girls soccer team had its season end with a 2-0 loss to third-seeded Olentangy Orange in a Division I district final Oct. 26 at Dublin Jerome.

The sixth-seeded Eagles, who finished 11-5-3 overall and won the CCL at 3-0, beat 19th-seeded Hilliard Darby 5-1 in a district semifinal Oct. 23 at home to advance to the title game.

Watterson and Orange played to a 1-all tie Sept. 7.

"It's a special program and a special place to be," coach Scott Dempsey said. "We ask a lot of our players in the program and they give every effort they can to meet the standards of the program. After we finally started to get everybody healthy, it really became a player-led team. When you become a player-led team and not a coach-led team, that's when you become a special team."

The Eagles are losing five seniors, including three first-team all-league honorees in Megan Eberts (midfielder/def-ender), Isabella Ginocchi (midfielder) and Rachel Weaver (defender).

Sophomore midfielder/forward Gabriella Rotolo also was first-team all-league, while sophomore defender Maddy Bellisari, sophomore midfielder Brooklyn Scythes and junior goalie Annie McGraw were second-team all-league.

Others eligible to return include juniors Erin Connors (midfielder/forward), Olivia Frisone (defender) and Grace Jenkins (midfielder) and sophomores Julia Flanagan (midfielder), Lexie Francis (midfielder/forward) and Katie Youell (defender).

Field hockey team falls to Cardinals

The third-seeded field hockey team lost 2-1 in overtime to second-seeded Thomas Worthington in a district final Oct. 26 at Olentangy Liberty to settle for its fifth consecutive district runner-up finish.

The Eagles, who have been to 17 consecutive district championship games, tied the game at 1 on a goal by junior attacker Alex Picolo in the second half. They had four penalty corners in the last five minutes of regulation but couldn't convert.

Watterson, which finished 13-5, lost to the Cardinals 4-0 on Sept. 30.

"Working together and working hard (are) the (things) we do best at Watterson," senior attacker Emily Dixon said.

The only other senior was defender Olivia Iceman.

Caroline Dunham (goalkeeper), Lauren Neutzling (defender), Cailin O'Reilly (attacker), Maddie Phillips (midfielder), Anne Marie Ruess (attacker), Audrey Schroeder (attacker), Anna Sears (midfielder) and Claire Sugar (defender) were other juniors.

Sophomore attacker Zoe Coleman, who missed time this season with a concussion, and sophomore midfielder Molly Griffith, who missed most of the season with an injury, should be other key returnees next season.

Others eligible to return include sophomores Aubrey Bower (attacker), Grace Cantwell (attacker), Bella Eramo (defender), Camille Gregory (midfielder), Fiona Isbell (midfielder) and Makenna Twombly (attacker) and freshmen Ava Gruver (midfielder) and Ellie Pardi (defender).

"We had some really tough injuries to get through during the season, but I always thought if we came together and everybody is healthy that we had as good of a chance as anybody," coach Janet Baird said.

Boys soccer team falls in semifinal

A 2-1 halftime lead didn't hold up for the boys soccer team as it fell 6-2 at third-seeded Granville in a Division II district semifinal Oct. 22.

The ninth-seeded Eagles, who opened the district tournament with a 1-0 upset win over seventh-seeded Jonathan Alder in the second round Oct. 16, finished 5-10-2.

"First of all, we were very young this season and we had to establish some faith and confidence in each other," said Chad Smith, who returned as coach this season after previously heading the program from 2010-14. "It's been a process and we've been constantly trying to work hard for each other."

The Eagles are losing two seniors in defenders Max Graham and Grant Twombly.

Juniors Simon DiSabato (midfielder), Anthony Fultz (midfielder) and Michael Segreto (goalie) should be among the top returnees, along with sophomores Johnny Hammerlle (midfielder), Trent Maisano (forward/midfielder), Sean Nyhus (defender), Alex Spiers (midfielder) and Joey White (defender).

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek