Ready Roundup: Girls volleyball team gets on track for district tournament

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Ready's Megan Chesser (left) and Ava Peoples leap to block Olentangy Berlin's Emmy Bush during a 25-10, 25-12, 25-12 loss to the Bears on Oct. 12. The Silver Knights opened the Division III district tournament Oct. 24.

Being confident in what it could accomplish in the Division III district tournament never has been a question for the Ready girls volleyball team.

There were bumpy moments along the way, of course, especially when the Silver Knights were forced into a two-week quarantine in late September because of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Still, before Ready closed the regular season with a 25-12, 25-13, 25-9 loss to Watterson on Oct. 17 to finish 0-5 in the CCL, it had won four of five matches, including three in a row after losing 25-10, 25-12, 25-12 to Olentangy Berlin on Oct. 12.

“It’s been going well,” junior middle hitter Megan Chesser said. “We have a lot of great friendships that are keeping the team together and we’re just hanging in there and looking to just play as a team. From the first day of volleyball to the last, we’re just getting better every single day.”

Ready was 9-8 overall and seeded ninth for the postseason when it opened Oct. 24 at home against 15th-seeded Mount Gilead in a second-round match.

The winner plays top-seeded North Union, 14th-seeded West Jefferson or 16th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek in a district semifinal Thursday, Oct. 29, at the home of the better-seeded team, and that winner plays for a district title Saturday, Oct. 31.

One of the players Ready was without for a two-week period in early October was libero Bella Illig, who is the team's only key senior.

Coach Mike Kusan was hoping her return would further solidify a defense that also has included juniors Jaydan Deal (defensive specialist) and Kaitlan Harlan (outside hitter) and freshman Ava Peoples (outside hitter). All have been among the team leaders in digs.

Chesser, Deal and junior middle hitter Simone Daniel have been the leading attackers.

“We have a powerful hitting team,” Daniel said. “We’ve gotten better over a time period, so we’ll be really good when we get to districts. I’m really happy with how things have progressed and how we’ve come together as a team. It’s been really good. We have to keep coming together as a team more, not staying quiet and bringing each other up.”

Kusan set his team up for a possible district semifinal matchup with North Union because he believes the Knights' regular-season schedule provided more than enough preparation.

Hartley and Watterson, which the Knights lost to twice apiece during the regular season, were seeded third in Division II and third in Division I for their respective district tournaments.

Ready’s season ended last fall with a four-set loss to Cardington in a first-round tournament match.

“I’ve had a different group of six girls start because of girls being hurt and COVID,” Kusan said. “We’re pretty close. Both Simone and Megan were hurt at the end of last year and did not play against Cardington. I thought North Union disrespected us (at the tournament draw) and gave us a 13th seed out of 19 teams and I feel like that’s the only way I can get respect is by playing the best team and knocking the best team out of the tournament. We play all of these Division I teams (during the regular season) for a reason.”

Runners begin

postseason action

The boys and girls cross country teams began the postseason with district competition, with the girls competing in the Division III, district 2 meet Oct. 23 and the boys running in the Division II, district 2 race Oct. 24.

In the girls race, the top three teams and individuals who finish among the top 12 advance to regional Saturday, Oct. 31, at Pickerington North. For the boys, it's the top four teams and top 16 individuals.

On Oct. 17 in the CCL meet, the boys scored 140 points to finish fifth behind champion DeSales (44) and the girls scored 113 points to finish fourth behind champion DeSales (33).

Junior Austin Burgoon led the boys with a 25th-place finish (19 minutes, 35.3 seconds), followed by freshman Jacob Blubaugh (26th, 19:44.1), junior Angel Rivera (27th, 19:58.8), freshman Joshua Richter (29th, 20:57.2), sophomores Ben Johns (33rd, 21:54.5) and Zachary Swierz (34th, 22:22.4) and freshman Alejandro Cabrera (35th, 24:46.1).

Leading the girls team was junior Addison Whitmer, who placed 17th (22:24.7), followed by junior Allison Bair (21st, 23:18.8), freshmen Amy Vanegas (24th, 24:15.5) and Jackie Smith (25th, 25:25.7), sophomore Kate Radwanski (26th, 25:42.7) and senior Michelle Vanegas (27th, 26:15.8).

George Hewitt and the Ready football team opened the Division V, Region 19 playoffs with a 52-3 victory over McDermott Northwest on Oct. 17. The Knights played at Wheelersburg on Oct. 24.

Football team wins

playoff opener

The football team opened the Division V, Region 19 playoffs with a 52-3 victory over 11th-seeded McDermott Northwest on Oct. 17.

The Knights closed their schedule against MSL-Ohio Division programs with a 38-0 victory over Bexley on Oct. 2 and added a regular-season game against the Reigning Sports Academy club team Oct. 10 because they had a first-round bye for the playoffs.

In a 36-0 victory over Reigning Sports, 10 players had at least one carry and key players rested for the final quarter.

Sixth-seeded Ready followed its opening playoff win by playing at third-seeded Wheelersburg on Oct. 24 in a regional quarterfinal. The winner plays second-seeded West Lafayette Ridgewood or seventh-seeded Liberty Union on Saturday, Oct. 31, in a regional semifinal.

Against Northwest, Ready built a 38-0 lead by halftime. Darius Parham was 8-for-10 passing for 134 yards with one touchdown and rushed for 51 yards and one score, Brian Fitzsimmons had 13 rushes for 120 yards and five touchdowns, Tyrese Hudson had seven carries for 50 yards and Andy Schulze had five receptions for 103 yards and one score.

“Senior leadership was evident all week (heading into the game),” Cutler said. “Their focus showed up all week and executed at a high level from start to finish.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek