County volleyballers slam into semifinal wall
Christian Academy of Indiana defended its sectional championship on Saturday night by defeating New Washington in a five-game thriller. The Lady Warriors, who have won three sectionals the last four years, advance to Saturday’s South Decatur Regional to face Northeast Dubois in the opening match.
The volleyball teams from South Central and Lanesville saw their seasons come to a close Saturday morning in the semifinal round of the Class 1A sectional in Elizabeth.
C.A.I. def. S.C.
Coming into the first semifinal game of the South Central Sectional on Saturday morning, the host Lady Rebels had already defeated Christian Academy of Indiana three times this season.
South (14-14) looked like it would make it four in a row after trimming the Lady Warriors, 25-23, in an electrifying first game.
But Tai Whitlow and Sarah Davis had other plans for CAI.
Whitlow and Davis, who are their team’s only seniors, blasted shot after shot past South’s front line, which usually consisted of only one player. Even with five other Lady Rebels waiting to try to make a play from the backcourt, the laser beam shots by Whitlow and Davis found the hardwood time after time.
Couple the duo’s blasts with a slew of hitting errors and, as South head coach Kara Boman put it, ‘It wasn’t a very good day.’
Christian Academy swept the next three games, 25-22, 25-16 and 25-19.
‘We just stopped playing. I thought with us having the bye it was a good thing. Now, looking back, I kind of wonder if we had too much time off,’ Boman said. ‘ We beat them three times this season. It’s hard to beat a team three times, and almost impossible to beat them four times. We prepared for things that we’d seen. Saturday, we saw things we hadn’t seen from Christian Academy before.
‘(In the previous three games) we had been able to shut them down. On Saturday our blocking wasn’t coming together. Our serving wasn’t very good. We made a lot of silly mistakes and just didn’t pull it together in time.’
South junior front-liner Valerie Burnette recorded several kills and scoring blocks in the first game. Joining in the offense were Jamie Huffman, Lori Ferree and Jenny Babcock.
The Lady Warriors opened a 5-0 lead to start the second game: after a service error by South Central, Whitlow aced, South had a hitting error, Lana Marcum scored on a volley, and Whitlow aced again.
Burnette killed to halt the run, but the skid continued for the Lady Rebels until it was 9-1.
South Central slowly worked back into the game thanks to a couple of hitting errors by CAI, a dink by Ferree, and back-to-back aces by freshman Brittany Schoen to make the score 13-9.
The comeback continued until another kill by Ferree put the score at 19-18 in favor of the Lady Warriors.
The contest remained a one-point affair until it was tied at 22.
South Central committed two hitting errors and Whitlow put down another kill to seal the win for the Lady Warriors.
The third game was nip and tuck until the midway point, where the Lady Rebels fell apart.
After tying the game at 12-12, hitting and service errors haunted the home team. Davis powered her club with three consecutive kills, and Whitlow finished the match with back-to-back floor denters to win, 25-16.
The final contest was a mirror image of game three, with South staying close in the beginning, only to fade as the match wore on.
‘I tried to stress that no team is just going to lay down and die for you. I kept saying they had good players and we need to be careful of them,’ Boman said. ‘They only attacked at strong side and middle, so that’s why we had one defender. Valerie is a very strong blocker and she had blocked and blocked and blocked that girl all three times this season. It wasn’t just Valerie, but I felt like our blocking overall just wasn’t there. Other girls needed to step up, and it just didn’t happen.’
Boman said the play of Burnette, Beanblossom, Huffman and Megan Zumar were bright spots on the day.
‘Zumar does a wonderful job. She’s just a leader. She seems to always be positive, pleased with her all season. Kim Beanblossom did a really good job in the back row with her digging and serve receiving. Justine had a great day serving,’ Boman said.
‘It was a frustrating day to have their last match end on a day when we all knew we didn’t play as well as we could have and should have played.’
New Wash def. Lanesville
Avenging a regular-season loss, New Washington cruised past Lanesville in Saturday’s second semifinal matchup, 25-23, 25-17, 20-25, 25-19.
The same recipe that slowed South Central earlier ‘ errors, and a pair of strong hitters for the other team ‘ turned out to also be the Lady Eagles’ undoing.
‘New Washington came to play,’ said Lanesville’s first-year coach D.J. Zipp. ‘Hats off to them, definitely, but I can’t say that I’m not disappointed in the way we played. We talked all week about the things we needed to do, and we just didn’t do them. We were pretty sloppy in a lot of areas.
‘I’m very proud of the girls and the season we had (17-16), but we certainly didn’t play our best today.’
New Washington’s Brittney McKee and Amber Napier accounted for a slew of points, but a total of 47 hitting and serving errors (combined) had as much to do with the outcome as anything.
‘In the first meeting, they made all of the mental mistakes. Tonight, we were hitting out of bounds. It was that way in three of the four games tonight.’
Lanesville had 12 hitting errors in the first game, with eight coming after the contest was tied at 10.
After falling behind 8-3 in the early going of the second stanza, a trio of aces by Tabitha Wernert and a kill by Jessica Schmelz brought Lanesville within one, 11-10.
The rally was short-lived, however, as the Lady Eagles committed three consecutive hitting errors.
New Washington’s Brittany Davis served up a couple of aces before Lanesville mounted another comeback charge.
Kirstie Hammond killed and Leeann Wolfe had an ace to trim their deficit to two, 20-18.
The Lady Mustangs pulled away, however, thanks to four more hitting errors by Lanesville.
Offensively, the Lady Eagles were much better in the third game, with Johnson, Jessica Schmelz and Maegan VanHoose sparking their team.
It was a tight game throughout. Lanesville finally posted its first win of the night with a scoring block by Schmelz and kills by Johnson.
The Lady Eagles lingered early in the fourth set; however, another bout with errors stymied any hope for the team.
Thirteen hitting miscues and strong net play by McKee were too much for Lanesville.
‘I was hoping to carry over our hitting into game four, but we never got anything going,’ Zipp said. ‘We never could get it all together.’
There were few bright spots on the night, Zipp said, including the back row play of Beth Dorgay and Johnson’s serves, but for the most part he was disappointed that his club played under its potential.
‘We’re better than we showed. Plain and simple.’