Westland Roundup: Volleyball team not meeting expectations

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Lyhea Correa (20) and Olivia Fernandez of the Westland girls volleyball team go up for a block against Westerville Central’s Riley Kindall during a 25-9, 25-12, 25-4 loss to the visiting Warhawks on Sept. 22. The Cougars were 3-9 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Grove City on Sept. 24.

When Nicole Zumpano took over as coach of the Westland girls volleyball team four years ago, she hoped to develop it into one of the top programs in the area. 

She has seen glimpses of promise, but remains disappointed with the overall progress. 

The Cougars, who have battled injuries this season, were 3-9 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division through 12 matches. They closed the first round of league play Sept. 24 against Grove City, looking to end a five-match losing streak and 14-match losing skid in league play. 

Before playing the Greyhounds, Westland’s last league win was a 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 25-22 victory over Central Crossing on Oct. 11, 2018, in OCC-Central play. 

“I’m not happy with the way that we’re playing,” Zumpano said. “This is highly disappointing. The coaching staff and I have always said this is one of the most talented varsity groups that we’ve had since we’ve been here and unfortunately it’s just not showing. It’s just not what we expected.” 

The Cougars are looking to improve on last year’s 6-16 finish. 

Westland lost to visiting Westerville Central 25-9, 25-12, 25-4 on Sept. 22. 

Zumpano expected to lose junior setter Kenadee Winters, who suffered a leg injury against the Warhawks, for several matches. 

Junior right-side hitter/outside hitter Olivia Fernandez recently returned to the lineup after missing time with a sprained ankle. 

Junior middle hitter Rylea Bott has missed time after being quarantined because of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but was expected to return soon. 

“Rylea is a difference maker,” Zumpano said. 

Despite the slow start, senior defensive specialist Sofia Rodriguez is confident the team can improve in the second half of the season. 

“I can’t believe this is almost over,” said Rodriguez, who was a freshman when Zumpano took over the program. “I still feel like a freshman. This all happened so fast. This is really frustrating because I know our greatest potential and we just haven’t been hitting that lately, so it’s frustrating. 

“We all get (along) so well together. We just have to show that on the court by talking and knowing where we’re at and trusting each other is a big deal. I’m very confident we can turn this around.” 

The Cougars’ first three wins came against Franklin Heights (25-7, 25-6, 25-9 on Aug. 25), Harvest Prep (25-10, 25-13, 25-11 on Aug. 27) and Marion Harding (18-25, 16-25, 25-15, 25-16, 15-8 on Sept. 9). 

They lost to Central Crossing 28-26, 14-25, 25-10, 25-19 on Sept. 16 in a non-league match. 

Girls soccer coach sees improvement 

Second-year girls soccer coach Nick Courtright is pleased with the team’s progress. 

The Cougars were 2-7 overall before playing Heath on Sept. 29. They are 0-2 in the OCC-Ohio. 

“Our girls are improving, but along with slower progressions in soccer, we’ve added a couple of injuries,” Courtright said. “That’s sports I guess. Our younger girls are getting more minutes and making some strides with the experience. I still love this group of kids.” 

Westland defeated Harding 5-3 on Aug. 25 and Frank-lin Heights 8-1 on Aug. 27. 

Campa playing well for boys team 

Boys soccer coach Jamie Dato has been impressed with the contributions of goalie Omar Campa. 

Campa made 14 saves in a 4-0 loss at Pickerington North on Sept. 22. 

“Most were tough saves, reflex saves,” Dato said. “One goal was on a penalty kick and another off a corner kick, which are tough for us being such a small team. ... Our goaltending has been a pleasant surprise with Omar really improving on a game-by- game basis.” 

The Cougars were 1-7-1 overall before playing Hamilton Township on Sept. 29. They are 0-2 in the OCC-Ohio. 

“We’re still trying to get better as the season goes on,” Dato said. “We’re working on defensive assignments and communication. We still need to get more scoring opportunities, but hopefully these will happen as we get better with our defense leading to possession.” 

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekFrank