Pickerington North Roundup: Brooke Norwood displays diverse skill set for volleyball team

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
North's Brooke Norwood (center) and Lilian Muszynski go for a block against Central's Myriah Massey on Sept. 29. Norwood finished the regular season with 1,251 career assists while displaying a variety of skills. “She probably is the best defensive setter I’ve seen in a very long time,” coach April Boudreau said.

Brooke Norwood breaks down volleyball into simple terms, which might help explain why her Pickerington North teammates think she tends to make the game look easy at times — all while acknowledging the special nature of her achievements.

“The way I look at it, volleyball is just a hard game of keeping the ball up,” said Norwood, a senior. “You have to be able to do everything. You have to be able to dig. You have to be able to set. You have to be able to hit sometimes. Being a player who can do all of those things, that’s been huge for me.”

Norwood is a setter by trade, but she does more than run the Panthers’ 5-1 offense.

Norwood passed 1,000 career assists during a Sept. 26 match at Watkins Memorial and finished the regular season with 1,251, 584 of which had come this year. She also led the team in digs with 248, something that might not come as naturally for a setter. But while that is the position she has played the last two seasons, Norwood spent her sophomore year as a defensive specialist to acclimate to varsity while Megan Vayansky was the team’s primary setter.

“She probably is the best defensive setter I’ve seen in a very long time,” coach April Boudreau said. “When we put her back there (two years ago), at first she was probably nervous but then she fell in love with the back row. In club, she has done a little bit of both. She has the ability to play at the next level as a setter, defensive specialist or even a libero.”

The Panthers finished the regular season at 12-9 overall and 7-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division. Seeded 16th in the Division I district tournament, North defeated 31st-seeded and visiting Chillicothe 25-5, 25-20, 25-7 in a second-round match Oct. 21.

Norwood had 640 assists and 182 digs as a junior and this year also had 24 aces — second on the team — and 24 blocks.

“None of our success comes if we don’t have a good setter and being a middle hitter, you realize exactly how important that (position) is,” teammate Lilian Muszynski said. “Her energy, her fire she brings to the game no matter what she is doing, all of those aspects are huge contributions to our team. She’s very knowledgeable about the game and willing to help everybody else on the court.”

North played sixth-seeded DeSales in a district semifinal Oct. 27. The winner faces fourth-seeded Watkins Memorial or fifth-seeded Dublin Coffman in a district final Saturday, Oct. 31, at the home of the better seed.

The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Nov. 5.

Norwood has received interest from colleges for more than a year and hopes to make a decision by December. While she said she was not tracking her statistics entering the year, she admits taking pride in her achievements however the season turns out.

“I saw other people getting like 1,000 attacks and 1,000 digs, so adding that number next to my name was pretty cool,” Norwood said. “I am proud of myself.”

North's Ashley Khatib finished fourth in the OCC-Ohio meet Oct. 17 at Central, leading the Panthers to their first league championship since 2010.

Girls run to

league title

Three top-10 finishes and all five scorers placing in the top 19 led the girls cross country team to its first league championship since 2010 during the OCC-Ohio meet Oct. 17 at Pickerington Central.

Ashley Khatib was fourth (19 minutes, 53.7 seconds) and Emma Rittman fifth (20:05.1) to lead the Panthers to 49 points and first place, ahead of Gahanna (50), New Albany (55), Westerville Central (58) and Grove City (150). Also scoring were Maya Roes (10th, 20:27.5), Emily Harness (11th, 20:31.2) and Gia Wetherell (19th, 21:25.6).

Led by Nick Whitehead’s second-place finish (16:19.73), the boys team placed second (61) behind New Albany (35) and ahead of Gahanna (63), Central (64), Grove City (152) and Westland (187). Whitehead was followed by Justin Schumacher (sixth, 17:03.8), Ian Ricker (eighth, 17:07.85), Aidan Eberhardt (23rd, 17:50.02) and Isaac Glanzman (24th, 17:57.14).

North began the postseason Oct. 24 with Division I district meets at Hilliard Darby. The boys were in district 1, from which the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to regional Saturday, Oct. 31, at North, and the girls were in district 2, where the top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced.

Strong finish powered

girls tennis team

Uncertainty gave way to success for the girls tennis team, which returned only one player from last year but eventually found its form in winning eight consecutive matches to end the season and advancing a doubles team to within a win of the Division I state tournament.

Senior Corinna Moesle and sophomore Tasha Miller won four three-set matches in a sectional Oct. 8 and 10 at Reynoldsburg then went 1-1 at district, falling to Upper Arlington’s Noah Mizer and Ava Richard 6-1, 6-0 in a state-qualifying match.

“Being unseeded and winning four three-setters, that’s something I’ve never seen as a coach, whether from my players or anybody else’s,” coach Brian Hoff said.

That ended a season in which North went 10-8 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Ohio. The Panthers started 2-8 before several lineup combinations paid off, including playing senior Jeslyn Eskander at first singles and Moesle at first doubles with Miller.

“Our team at the end of the season would destroy our team at the beginning of the season. That’s how much better we got,” Hoff said. “We used different lineups the whole year and started using some doubles teams who really clicked toward the end. At one point we were 2-8 and the girls just kept working every day and trying to get better. They were better at matches and started winning some of the close ones.”

Other players eligible to return include juniors Laken Dreher and Sarah McCully, sophomore Kanisha Thambyrajah and freshman Gabrielle Dobberstein.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

GIRLS TENNIS

Record: 10-8 overall

OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (5-0), Westerville Central (4-1), Gahanna (3-2), Pickerington North (2-3), Grove City (1-4), Westland (0-5)

Seniors lost: Jeslyn Eskander, Corinna Moesle and Caroline Rowell

Key returnees: Gabrielle Dobberstein, Laken Dreher, Sarah McCully, Tasha Miller and Kanisha Thambyrajah