Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
I never realize how much I miss the smell of popcorn until I walk into a high school gym for the first time after a long summer of, well, twiddling my thumbs at times.
High school sports scribes will tell you that it’s nice to have a bit of a break during the summer, but they’ll also tell you that, by the end of a near three-month standstill, they’re ready to get back into a routine.
Luckily, fall sports is once again here … which means I’m back into my own routine and my traveling office is once again on the road.
Just seven days into a new season, here’s this week’s wrap:
What made me raise my eyebrows?
If you haven’t noticed, Northwest’s volleyball program if off to a 3-0 start. The Mohawks have beaten New Boston, Oak Hill and Eastern, and have lost just two sets while doing so. If you remember, Northwest finished 11-12 overall last fall with a 6-8 mark in the SOC II, good enough for a fifth place finish. But now a year older, and with athletes like Haidyn Wamsley and Val Eury leading the way, the Mohawks have the firepower to be a Cinderella story. Soon, we’ll find out just how good they are. Their next three matches are against Waverly, Minford and Wheelersburg.
Unioto’s volleyball team has grit, and if you need anymore confirmation about that … look no further than Thursday’s thriller against Chillicothe. After the Cavaliers held a 2-0 lead and found themselves three points away from a sweep, Unioto dug deep and found a way to extend the match. The trio of Hallie Pinkerton, Emily Coleman and Amber Cottrill powered the Shermans to a deciding fifth set in which they finished off the Cavaliers in what could be an early season candidate for Game of the Year. Both teams have extreme promise, but it was Unioto’s day to shine.
You probably already know this but both Westfall and Notre Dame’s volleyball programs are going to be tough to beat all year long. The big-time names are there … Taylor Schmidt, Cassie Schaefer, Sophia Hassel, etc. for the Titans, Kristin Phillips, Josie Williams, Marissa Mullins, etc. for the Mustangs … and the potential is limitless if either can put it all together. Saturday, they faced each other in the Jeep Invitational, playing a drama-filled five-set match. It’s really, really early but I wouldn’t be surprised to see either team back in a district final.
So, Allison Basye is really good at volleyball. But you already knew that. Huntington’s sophomore phenom had quite the week, tallying 67 kills in four wins, including 44 in three victories on Saturday at the Athens Invite.
South Webster’s Faith Maloney has been magnificent so far, posting 49 kills, eight aces, eight blocks and 38 digs. That’s been the key to South Webster starting its year with a 3-1 record, including wins over Valley and Waverly.
Jackson’s volleyball team is off to a 2-0 start this fall with wins over Piketon and Wellston. Abbey Munn and Kylee Bako have led that charge as the two have combined for 38 kills, four aces and 53 digs during the first two matches. The Ironladies have a favorable week ahead, taking on Southern, Miami Trace and McClain. If all goes well, Jackson could enjoy a 5-0 start.
MORE LINKS: Northwest’s Ellie Curtis wins SOSA Athlete of the Week … Erslan’s two goals lift Chillicothe over Rosecrans … Westfall wins Jeep Invite
Standout Stat Lines
On the soccer pitch, Waverly’s Loren Moran has been … well, her usual self. In the Tigers’ 3-0 start, Moran has scored seven times, passed out four assists and accounted for 18 total points.
McClain’s Kerigan Pollard has been magnificent, scoring 10 goals in her first three matches. Her Tigers sit at 2-1 with wins over Circleville (4-3) and Fairfield (6-2). With the junior leading the way, McClain could surprise some critics this season.
After recovering from a season-ending injury last season, Chillicothe’s Sophie Fulkerson is up to her old tricks again. In her first 17 sets as a senior, Fulkerson has accounted for 67 kills, 19 aces and 77 digs.
Piketon’s Ava Little finished with 10 kills and seven assists in Thursday’s win over Green, a 25-12, 25-12, 25-19 sweep. The win also marked Redstreaks coach Alayna Lytle’s first career varsity coaching win.
Unioto junior Sydney Free is in midseason form, or that’s what it looks like after Saturday’s performance. The goalkeeper stifled Bexley for much of the match, surrendering just one late goal in a 1-0 loss. She recorded 11 saves and, if you watched, single-handily kept the Tanks in the thick of things.
Coming up next … ah, yes … Football
The band will play, raw emotion will surface and, thank goodness, the final scores will count. High school football season is here. If you’re still looking for entertainment this coming Friday evening, you’re not looking hard enough.
As the season begins, there’s tons of storylines, players and marquee matchups to be keeping an eye on.
This coming week, you can follow our writers on Twitter — Derrick Webb (@dw1509), Brock Netter (@SirBrockNetter), Clay Archer (@ClayArcher3) and John Bruce (@CoconutWallpapa) — for continuous live updates.
You can also be sure to check out our site this week as we’ll have preview capsules, football features and game picks on tap.
VOLLEYBALL: 1. Unioto (2-0), 2. Westfall (3-1), 3. Huntington (4-0), 4. Wheelersburg (1-0), 5. Notre Dame (1-1), 6. South Webster (3-1), 7. Zane Trace (2-1), 8. Chillicothe (3-4), 9. Northwest (3-0), 10. Waverly (2-1)
BOYS SOCCER: 1. Chillicothe (1-1), 2. Wheelersburg (2-0), 3. Unioto (2-1), 4. South Webster (1-0), 5. Clay (3-0), 6. Zane Trace (2-0), 7. Jackson (1-1), 8. Minford (2-0), 9. Waverly (2-1), 10. Miami Trace (1-0)
GIRLS SOCCER: 1. Unioto (1-1), 2. Wheelersburg (2-0), 3. Waverly (3-0), 4. Chillicothe (1-1), 5. Jackson (0-0), 6. McClain (2-1), 7. Northwest (1-0), 8. Minford (1-1), 9. Westfall (2-1), 10. Zane Trace (0-2-1)