Notebook: Westerville North Warriors boys volleyball team seeking consistent play

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Nathan Gillenwater and North were 13-7 after defeating Upper Arlington 25-16, 25-18, 25-18 on May 6. The Division I postseason begins May 21.

Coach Eva Opitz is looking for her Westerville North boys volleyball team to put everything together at the right time.

The Warriors were 13-7 overall and finished 7-5 in the OCC-Central Division after defeating Upper Arlington 25-16, 25-18, 25-18 on May 6, but Opitz wants to see some consistency.

North defeated Hilliard Bradley 25-17, 21-25, 14-25, 25-23, 15-13 on April 20 in the second league meeting between the teams. The Jaguars were 15-2 overall and 9-2 in the OCC-Central after losing to Olentangy Orange 25-22, 25-19, 25-21 on May 6.

Optiz said the Warriors were not prepared to play Bradley in the first meeting, a 25-19, 25-14, 25-22 loss March 30. That match came one day after a season-opening 25-13, 25-20, 22-25, 28-30, 16-14 setback to DeSales.

“We changed our game plan against Bradley,” Opitz said. “The first time we played them we were coming off a big opening loss to DeSales, and we’re not always the fastest team to turn it around.

“The second time, we had a game plan as to what to do and where to be. We knew we needed to work on shutting down their outside (hitter) Jonah (Gilbert), who is their go-to in the front and back row, then we’d get the result we wanted. We worked on back-blocking and triple-blocking the back row and worked on keeping them out of system, and we got touches on him when he was in the front row. We were able to make adjustments to our game and we brought some energy.”

Ian Ford had eight kills and Nathan Gillenwater had four kills and four aces to lead the Warriors past Briggs 25-17, 25-11, 25-10 on May 4. Collin Cook had four kills and Jayden Henderson had 18 assists and four aces, while Logan Dowling had nine digs and Nathan Sharpes had six.

“In practice we show some good game play, but in matches we don’t always see that,” Cook said. “We sometimes play down to our competition. We’ve fixed that some. We got better every set, and we’re getting more consistent.”

Optiz said her team is on track to be playing its best when the Division I postseason begins May 21.

“We have a higher confidence level than we had earlier in the season,” she said. “We know when we take the court, we’re going to do good things and we have the ability to come back if we need to do that.”

•The South baseball team entered the latter stages of the season in pursuit of a league title and also hoping to contend for a Division I district championship. 

The Wildcats were 18-3 overall and 7-2 in the OCC-Capital before playing the second of two games against Canal Winchester on May 8. The Wildcats and Indians were tied for first in the league. 

South beat Canal Winchester 4-1 in the first game May 6 at home.

“Things are paying off with the hard work that these seniors have put in the last couple of years,” coach Tim Bates said. “It’s paying off in all three aspects of the game — hitting, pitching and fielding.” 

South closes the regular season May 14 at Worthington Kilbourne, with the district tournament beginning May 17. 

Bates expected a favorable draw when the tournament pairings were released May 9. 

Through 20 games, Brayden White was hitting a team-best .514 with a team-high 23 RBI, 23 runs, 15 doubles and three home runs. 

Jack Bates was batting .459, followed by Santo Scillia (.431) and Matthew Bame (.419). 

On the mound, Andrew Collinsworth was 4-0 and had a 1.14 ERA with 34 strikeouts and six walks in 30 2/3 innings. 

Brandon Kim was 4-0 and had a 1.83 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 12 walks in 15 1/3 innings. 

Logan Hunn was 3-1 and had a 2.27 ERA with 30 strikeouts and one walk in 24 2/3 innings. 

—Frank DiRenna 

Laiken Hendricks and Central opened the Division I district tournament May 12 with a second-round game.

•The Central softball team has a busy week, which includes the beginning of the postseason.

The Warhawks, who were seeded eighth in the Division I district tournament and had a first-round bye, faced 24th-seeded Dublin Coffman or 34th-seeded Big Walnut in the second round May 12. 

If Central advances, it would play host to 11th-seeded Hilliard Darby, 21st-seeded Pickerington North or 41st-seeded Dublin Jerome in a district semifinal May 17.

The district final is May 19. 

In 2019, Central reached state for the first time, losing 4-3 to Liberty Township Lakota East in a semifinal. 

Last season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

The Warhawks were 17-4 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Pickerington North on May 7. Central has league games remaining with Gahanna on May 13 and Grove City on May 14. 

“The girls really seem to be clicking at the right time,” coach Brian Wamsley said. 

Through 20 games, Emily O’Dee was hitting .559, followed by Tatum Hubble (.554), Hanna Hunt (.521) and Lexi Recinella (515). 

Lydia Wilkerson (36) and Recinella (30) led in RBI. 

In the circle, Recinella was 12-3 and had a 3.12 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 33 walks in 80 2/3 innings. Laiken Hendricks was 3-0 and had a 2.86 ERA with 13 strikeouts and seven walks in 29 1/3 innings. 

—Frank DiRenna 

•The Central boys and girls track and field teams hope to use the OCC-Ohio meet, which began May 12 and concludes May 15 at Thomas Worthington, as a springboard into the postseason. 

The boys team is seeded ninth in the district and will compete in the district 3 meet May 19, 20 and 22 at Darby. 

“We love championship season,” coach Jason Loughman said. “We’re at the point of the season where we have a good idea where we are as a team in individual events. … We continue to gain some chemistry with different relay groups. We’re right on schedule and pretty positive about the postseason.” 

The season has included senior Tasos Cook setting a program record in the high jump with an effort of 6 feet, 4 1/2 inches in the Wildcat Invitational on April 23 at South. 

Jayvon Council, a 2013 graduate, held the previous mark of 6-4. 

The girls team is seeded 10th and also will compete in the district 3 meet. 

“I’m pretty happy with what we’ve done this year,” coach David Mentlow said. “We’ve gotten a lot of kids a lot of opportunities, and with our youth, kids have had a lot of chances to run, so it’s good.” 

Mentlow said key contributors have included Moriah Johnson (sprints). 

The top four finishers in each event at district advance to the regional meet May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North. 

“We’d like to get as many as we can to regional, and there’s some that have better chances than others,” Mentlow said. “I’d like to get out as many as we can, so kids can get that opportunity and experience. And with my senior class, a lot of them have an opportunity to get there and advance further.” 

—Frank DiRenna

•The North girls lacrosse team was looking for its first victory entering its game with Hilliard Davidson on May 7.

The Warriors were 0-9 overall before playing Davidson and 0-4 in the OCC-Capital before facing Dublin Scioto on May 10.

North began the season with 16 players but lost a pair to injury and another was in quarantine from COVID-19. With Rachel Snider in goal, that meant the Warriors had 12 field players.

“That leaves us with one sub and when we get our player back from COVID, we’ll have two,” coach Norm Deena said. “Being a young team, they’ve improved in some aspects like game IQ and they’re learning some of the basics.”

The Warriors lost to visiting Bradley 13-2 on May 3. Lillian Gates and Alison Gruber both scored goals.

—Scott Hennen

sports@thisweeknews.com

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