Watterson Roundup: Volleyball team becomes battle-tested

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Watterson’s Sophie Mangold sets the ball as teammate Gina Grden looks on during a match against Hartley on Sept. 10. The Eagles were 9-4 overall and 5-1 in the CCL before playing DeSales on Sept. 29.

With a little more than two weeks left in the regular season, the Watterson girls volleyball team believes it has been tested in numerous ways.

Although multiteam events like the Catholic Invitational Tournament were canceled because of state restrictions due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Eagles believe their regular-season schedule has provided enough challenges to help prepare them for the Division I postseason.

In addition, Watterson has been forced to make lineup adjustments along the way.

Senior libero Margo Lawson missed time with an injury before returning to help the Eagles beat Hartley 23-25, 22-25, 25-16, 25-19, 16-14 on Sept. 21.

Watterson earned a season sweep with that win over the Hawks, despite having sophomore middle hitter Mercedes Martin sustain an ankle injury during the match. Sophomore Clara Vondran, who typically is an outside hitter, stepped in for Martin.

“We’ve been dealing with a little bit of adversity with injuries,” coach Stephanie Grieshop said. “We’re doing a good job of handling those things. This team is really special and they really love each other, and that can’t be replaced, but we have a lot of work to do still. We need to work on some consistency things.

“We have a strong schedule. I really think that puts us in a position to be prepared for the tournament.”

Watterson was 9-4 overall and 5-1 in the CCL before playing DeSales on Sept. 29. It will face Hartley again Thursday, Oct. 1, but that will be considered a non-league match.

Seniors Olyvia Kennedy (right-side hitter) and Sydney Taylor (outside hitter) and sophomore Ava Hoying (outside hitter) have been leading the offense, with Taylor and seniors Sophie Mangold (setter) and Hope Uptegraph (defensive specialist) leading the defense.

“We were down 0-2 (against Hartley on Sept. 21) but looked at each other and played together,” Taylor said. “The CCL is competitive and every game is going to be a dogfight. Our coaches got us fired up and our passion came out.

“Our senior class is special. It’s about who’s coming together and leaving our legacy and having fun.”

Football team tunes

up for postseason

After closing the regular season Friday, Oct. 2, at home against St. Charles, the football team will begin the Division III, Region 11 playoffs.

There are 12 teams from the Central District in Region 11, including two of Watterson’s CCL rivals, DeSales and Hartley.

The Eagles were 2-3 overall and 1-3 in the CCL after losing 42-32 to Hartley on Sept. 25.

One area that coach Brian Kennedy has been pleased with in terms of growth is his offensive line, which features seniors Alex Altier (RG), Patrick Jesse (LT) and Nick Youell (LG) and juniors Brady White (C) and Collin Cassidy (RT).

Senior quarterback Jake Hoying and senior running back Cam Nickleson have been among the team’s statistical leaders on offense.

“Our offensive line (has done) a good job,” Kennedy said. “Up even until that first scrimmage, we were still trying to get a few things figured out. In Week 1 (in a 28-22 overtime loss to DeSales), Jake was running for his life and had somebody in his face, but we’ve been working in practice, working on technique, working on our protection. I think we’re very dangerous in the passing game and having Cam in the running game helps.”

Girls soccer team

in CCL title hunt

The girls soccer team will wrap up the CCL championship if it wins Thursday, Oct. 1, at Hartley.

After beating DeSales 3-0 on Sept. 17 and Ready 8-0 on Sept. 24, the Eagles were 8-1 overall and 2-0 in the league.

Watterson’s first loss came 2-1 on Sept. 19 at home against Olentangy Orange, which was 14th in last week’s Division I state poll while the Eagles were third.

With junior defender Maddy Bellisari and senior goalie Annie McGraw among the top players on defense, Watterson posted five shutouts over its first eight games.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

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