Ready Roundup: Girls volleyball team looking to take next step
Although it was seeded 15th of 20 teams for the Division III district tournament a year ago and had its season end in the first round, the Ready girls volleyball team viewed it as part of the growing process.
Despite having no seniors, the Silver Knights put a scare into second-seeded Cardington before falling 25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 25-22 in their postseason opener.
Ready expects much more positive results this fall after going 6-17 overall and 0-6 in the CCL under Mike Kusan, who is in the fifth season of his second tenure as coach.
"We were really young and inexperienced the past two years," Kusan said. "This will be the most experienced team I've coached here at Ready."
Many of the program's most talented players will have eligibility beyond this fall.
Senior Bella Illig has returned at libero.
Junior middle hitters Megan Chesser and Simone Daniel are 5-foot-11 and 6-1, respectively.
Junior Kaitlyn Lancia has returned at right-side hitter and junior Claire Larger again is at setter.
Sophomores Jayden Deal (outside hitter) and Bryn Whitmer (setter) and freshman Ava Peoples (outside hitter) also are expected to be key players.
Junior defensive specialist Kaitlan Harlan is another key returnee.
Others looking to contribute are seniors Mercy Avila Cala (defensive specialist) and Madyson Reyes (defensive specialist), juniors Rebecca Daugherty (defensive specialist), Katie Englebrecht (outside hitter) and Lane Miller (middle hitter) and sophomore Caleigh Cheatham (setter).
Ready, which opens Wednesday, Aug. 26, at home against Olentangy Berlin and competes in its CCL opener Sept. 10 at DeSales, also will get another look at Cardington at the Pirates' multi-team event Saturday, Aug. 29.
"Illig, Chesser and Lancia will be leaders," Kusan said. "Deal, Daniel and Peoples will be key in winning a district title. The talent is really solid. We don't have just one great hitter, we have six really good hitters who will contribute each night. (I'm) very excited to get started."
Football team to face Liberty Union
After losing two of its first three games last season, the football team beat Liberty Union 35-14 to open its auxiliary schedule in the MSL-Ohio Division.
The Knights' schedule will feature only MSL programs this fall in a six-game regular season, including Liberty Union in the opener Friday, Aug. 28, at Fortress Obetz.
The Lions went 0-10 last season, but lost five games by nine points or fewer.
In addition, Liberty Union returns many of its key players, with senior running back Casey Fleahman and junior running back Braden Shreyer again serving as the top skill-position athletes. Seniors Braden Shook and Blake Shreyer are returning offensive linemen.
Ready has more than 50 athletes out for the program.
"They've been coming out every day and we return a heck of a senior class which has leadership," coach Joel Cutler said. "I'm real proud of their development."
The Knights went 5-5 last fall in Cutler's return after he had led the program in 2012 and 2013. They won their final two games, including closing the season with a 27-14 victory over Division VI playoff qualifier Grandview.
Senior Darius Parham has returned at quarterback, with seniors P.J. Daniels and Tyrese Hudson serving as experienced wide receivers.
Although running back Jack Foley was lost to graduation after he rushed for more than 4,000 career yards, senior JeJuan McGowan and sophomore Brian Fitzsimmons both return in the backfield.
Senior linebackers Jacob Metz and Cole Matthews, along with lineman Cael Dent and Hudson in the secondary, should anchor the defense.
At a glance
FOOTBALL -- WEEK 1
LIBERTY UNION vs. READY
*When: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28
*Where: Fortress Obetz
*Last meeting: 2019, Ready 35-14
*Top Silver Knights: Aiden Aiello (DB/WR), Cael Dent (OL/DL), Brian Fitzsimmons (RB), Tyrese Hudson (WR/DB), Cole Matthews (TE/LB), Jacob Metz (LB), JeJuan McGowan (RB/DB), Darius Parham (QB/DB) and Andrew Schulze (DB/WR)
*Top Lions: Dylan Anthony (DL), Cayden Carroll (QB), Casey Fleahman (RB/LB), Denver Kosch (OL), Blake Shreyer (OL), Braden Shreyer (RB/LB), Braden Shook (OL/DL), Drew Walker (OL) and Kyle Zink (OL)
*Coach: Mike Kusan, fifth season
*Top players: Megan Chesser, Simone Daniel, Jayden Deal, Bella Illig, Kaitlyn Lancia, Claire Larger, Ava Peoples and Bryn Whitmer
*Key losses: None
*Last season: 6-17 overall
*2019 CCL standings: DeSales (5-1), Watterson (4-2), Hartley (3-3), Ready (0-6)
*2019 postseason: Lost to Cardington 25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 25-22 in first round of Division III district tournament