Delaware Hayes Roundup: Volleyball team features talent, potential
The Delaware Hayes girls volleyball team expects to take a step forward in coach Raynard Martin's third season.
The Pacers lost five players from last season to graduation but aren't light on experience, as the 13-player roster includes seven juniors and four seniors.
"This year's team has so much potential," senior setter Anna Johnson said. "We really play well as a unit and we all play for each other. Everyone does their job as well and picks up slack when needed.
"There's so much talent on this year's team as well as younger classes moving up that everyone pushes each other every day, and I think that's going to give us a really good shot at putting a lot of games away."
In addition to Johnson, other top contributors are expected to be outside hitter Natalie Davis, a junior who played on varsity as a sophomore, junior middle hitter Bailey Christiansen and senior libero Ally Gray.
Martin said the Pacers have the potential to win a league title in their first year in the realigned OCC-Capital Division.
"I think we're definitely talented enough to do so and compete in every match against every team that we play," Martin said. "And I think we're strong enough mentally to do that as well with a strong junior and senior class."
Last year's team finished 11-13 overall after going 16-9 in Martin's first season, and went 5-9 in the OCC-Cardinal.
The Pacers earned a postseason win, defeating Dublin Jerome 23-25, 25-17, 25-7, 25-23 in the first round of the Division I district tournament before falling to Gahanna 25-19, 25-19, 25-14.
Delaware opened Aug. 24 with a 23-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-23 win over visiting Hilliard Davidson.
Davis led the Pacers with 11 kills while Johnson had 19 assists and 20 digs. Gray had 20 digs and junior setter Chloe Jeffers had 20 assists.
Football team to face North
The football team is set to play its home opener against new OCC-Capital rival Westerville North on Friday, Sept. 4.
The Pacers opened Aug. 28 at Big Walnut, which coach Scott Wetzel led from 1998-2008, winning six OCC titles and the Division III state championship in 2007.
Wetzel also coached North in 2016 and 2017, marking back-to-back weeks in which the Pacers will play his former teams. However, rather than reflecting on facing a Warriors team he previously coached, he's thinking about the matchups his current team will see on the field.
"It's a little bit of a (reunion), but it's been a couple years, so I think most of the kids I coached there are gone," Wetzel said. "I don't consider it to be a big deal. I do know that Westerville North has very tough kids. They're very physical, so you better be ready to play them when you play them."
The Warriors, who opened against Franklin Heights on Aug. 28, will be led by junior Wyatt Buxton at quarterback.
As the starter for the Warriors' final seven games in 2019, he completed 80 of 155 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.
The Pacers will be led by senior quarterback Blake Eiland, who completed 77 of 158 passes for 799 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions and rushed for 863 yards and six touchdowns last season.
Senior Logan Eubanks, who rushed for 163 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries last season, will occupy the backfield for Delaware with senior Ty Gillman.
"We're going to try to focus on stopping the run and controlling the line of scrimmage," said North coach Bryan Johnson, who is in his third year with the Warriors. "Any team with coach Wetzel, they like to establish the run. One of our goals is to establish the O-line and D-line. That's always been our goal is to control the line of scrimmage.
"Usually the team that controls the line of scrimmage comes out on the better end."
At a glance
FOOTBALL -- WEEK 2
WESTERVILLE NORTH at DELAWARE HAYES
*When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4
*North to date: Played Franklin Heights on Aug. 28
*Delaware to date: Played Big Walnut on Aug. 28
*Top Warriors: Brennan Albertini (RB/LB), Sylvester Bockarie (RB/LB), Wyatt Buxton (QB), Coby Darlington (WR/DB), Mitchell Gillam (OL/DL), Mohammed Nasser (OL/DL), Ty O'Hearn (WR/DB/LS), Reuben Simiyu (OL/DL) and Hunter Weigand (WR/DB/K)
*Top Pacers: Alex Blevins (WR), Austin Dowell (QB), Blake Eiland (QB), Logan Eubanks (RB), Ty Gillman (RB), Matt McGeath (OL/DL), Logan Gibson (OL), Gavin Kenney (OL), Braeden McGrady (WR), Kaleb Shaw (LB) and Orion Ward (DB)
*Coach: Raynard Martin, third season
*Top players: Bailey Christiansen, Natalie Davis, Ally Gray and Anna Johnson
*Key losses: Hadlee Bruns, Sydney Johns, Lilly Lagando, Rebecca Rocassin and Mia Thompson
*Last season: 11-13 overall
*2019 OCC-Cardinal standings: Dublin Scioto and Hilliard Bradley (13-1), Worthington Kilbourne (10-4), Dublin Jerome and Hilliard Darby (6-8), Delaware (5-9), Olentangy Berlin (2-12), Thomas Worthington (1-13)
*Postseason: Defeated Jerome 23-25, 25-17, 25-7, 25-23; lost to Gahanna 25-19, 25-19, 25-14 in second round of Division I district tournament