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Corydon Central’s run ends at regionals to hard-hitting Sullivan

Corydon Central’s run ends at regionals to hard-hitting Sullivan
Corydon Central’s run ends at regionals to hard-hitting Sullivan
Prior to the start of the third game, the Lady Panthers, including sophomore Laura Yates (center), listens to instruction from coach Kim Briscoe during regional play Saturday. (Photo by Brian Smith)

Sullivan had been there before ‘ three consecutive years making a regional appearance. In each of those appearances, the Lady Arrows failed to win a match, until they knocked off Corydon Central Friday to make their fourth in a row meaningful.
Backed by strong, consistent play from everyone who stepped on the floor, Sullivan used a dominating first game to put Corydon Central on its heels early. Sullivan’s solid attack game failed to allow the Lady Panthers offense to get into much of a rhythm, eventually finishing the Lady Panthers season with a 25-10, 25-22, 25-21 win in Jasper.
‘This Sullivan team is a group of six seniors that have been here before,’ Corydon Central coach Kim Briscoe said. ‘You could tell they didn’t want to go home again and (they) played harder than us.’
Game one was a telltale sign that Sullivan had the leg up on experience. Despite scoring the first two points, one on a Pam Cockerell ace, Sullivan didn’t weather. From the Cockerell ace on, it was all Lady Arrows. Led by Mackenzie Simmons and power-hitter Erika Huff, Sullivan wiggled their way to a 12-5 lead.
After the first 17 points of the match, Corydon Central finally was able to muster a kill. Meghan Bussabarger smashed a ball to the floor in an attempt to get the Corydon Central offense on track. The Bussabarger kill didn’t phase the head-strong Lady Arrows. They reeled off seven consecutive points before walloping the Lady Panthers 25-10 in the opener.
Corydon Central’s height advantage with Cockerell, Bussabarger and Jenna Keinsley was able to get a piece of many Sullivan kills early on, but the transition from the block to setting up the offense was a struggle.
The Lady Panthers (20-13) put in their best effort in the second game, rallying from a 3-0 deficit behind solid play from Bussabarger and Keinsley at the net. Corydon Central scored six straight points to take an 11-9 lead, which forced a Sullivan time-out. Keinsley led the surge, tallying three kills.
The Lady Arrows (25-9) responded to the time-out, breaking out in a six-point run of their own to relinquish the lead. A pivotal point came when Corydon Central appeared to have a point, but Huff leaped with desperation to save a ball with her right forearm. The save landed on the Corydon Central side of the court, dead on with the far line.
Corydon Central tried to hang tough, tying the game at 16-16. A pair of Alyssa Chagnon aces sent the Lady Arrows forward from there to take a two-game lead.
‘We just couldn’t sustain any momentum,’ Briscoe said.
Game three was like a mirror image of the first. Gritty play again helped spring Sullivan to a demanding 20-10 advantage. Corydon Central rallied to win 11 of the next 16 points, inching closer to Sullivan at 21-18. It was as close at the Lady Panthers would come, giving way to Sullivan.
‘This team has really grown up,’ Briscoe said. ‘Two weeks ago, I did not think we would be here.’
She credited the senior group of setter Jolanna Stiles, libero Josey Kintner and defensive specialist Elisabeth Neal for leading the turnaround.
Against Sullivan, Keinsley led the Lady Panthers in kills with 12 and also contributed an ace. Bussabarger and Giuffre each added four kills.
Sullivan was paced by Huff’s 12 kills and Jacqueline Exline’s five. Chagnon had a solid game as well, with five aces and two kills.
In the Regional finals, Sullivan was upended by Jasper in three games, 25-13, 25-22, 25-11. The host school defeated Evansville Memorial in the opening game, 25-19, 25-17, 25-10. Jasper won its second consecutive regional crown and will join the remaining final four teams ‘ Mishawaka Marian, Brebeuf Jesuit and Bellmont ‘ in Muncie this weekend.

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