The Jonathan Alder volleyball team has been to the place every high school squad hopes to get to when the season ends here in a few weeks.
The Lady Pioneers however are determined to not have their season end the way it did a year ago, with a loss in the Division II state championship match.
Alder will begin its quest for a state championship next week when it opens the D-II Central District tournament. The Pioneers (16-4, 12-0 in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division) are the No. 3 seed in the district and have a first-round bye. They will host either No. 13 Bloom-Carroll or No. 22 Columbus East in a second-round tilt at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19.
The district’s top seed is Bishop Hartley, the second seed is Granville, and is a squad Alder could face in a district championship match. First-year Alder coach TJ Read likes the effort his athletes have given thus far and believes they’re ready for whatever the postseason brings.
“We’re doing good things,” he said. “Every time the girls are in the gym the coaching staff is introducing more challenging concepts. We trained hard in preseason and the girls are great about staying healthy, which is paying off. The coaching staff is pleased with the mindset of the team and we’re excited to see how far they can go.”
Alder recently claimed an outright MOAC Red Division championship, finishing off a perfect league mark with a 25-17, 25-15, 25-17 victory over Galion Tuesday.
Winning a league championship is still a big thing, even for a squad with state championship aspirations.
“The team was excited about the win,” Read said. “Everyone in the league came prepared to play and we gave them everything we had. As a team we decided to treat every match with the same weight. We train that way in order to respect each opponent that we face.”
While Alder is the No. 3 seed and could play No. 2 Granville in a D-II district final, the other bracket will garner a lot of attention from Madison County fans as well.
London received the fourth seed in the district and is in the same bracket as the top-seeded Hawks of Hartley.
The Red Raiders (17-3, 11-0) have a first-round bye and will host either No. 6 Columbus West or No. 15 Columbus International at 6 p.m. Wednesday Oct. 19.
London High School coach Darrel Eades likes how his team is playing but knows that if they get to the district final they will have their hands full if Hartley is on the other side of the court.
“I thought the tournament draw turned out like we expected,” Eades said. “Our goal is to get to the district final. We know Hartley is a tough team, they’re ranked No. 3 in the state. Our goal is to get to the district final. If we do that then we’ll deal with whoever we’re going to play.”
A year ago London made the district championship match before falling to Jonathan Alder.
Like the Pioneers, London won its third straight league title capturing the Mid-State League Ohio Division title.
“Winning the league means a lot to me and it means a lot to the kids,” Eades said. “They’re happy but not completely satisfied. It was one of our goals this season to go in and win it for the third straight year.”
West Jeff received the No. 10 seed in the D-III tournament and will have a first-round bye. The squad will tangle with the winner of No. 5 Pleasant and No. 16 North Union Saturday, Oct. 22 at the home of the better seeded squad.
No. 21 Madison-Plains (out of 24) has a bye and will play the winner of No. 1 Newark Catholic and No. 18 Columbus Academy. That match will also be played Oct. 22 at the better seed.
The Flames are the No. 2 seed in D-IV and will open at home against No. 17 Village Academy Oct. 20. The winner will advance to face either No. 4 Berne Union or No. 6 Fisher Catholic on Oct. 22.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.