The timing is looking awfully good for the Northview High School volleyball team.
A program successful enough to have a fairly substantial representation of players in its 100-win club — that’s an average of at least 25 wins per season, obviously, and this year seniors Audrey Clark and Shelbi Morris joined the group very early in their fourth campaign — is getting what, on paper at least, looks like a big postseason tournament break.
Very possibly getting that break with its best team yet.
After beating Owen Valley on Wednesday, the 2013 Knights are 23-3. They’d be among the favorites at the Class 4A Avon Sectional, having beaten both Terre Haute North (which easily handled two other prospective sectional foes last weekend) and Terre Haute South.
Except that they don’t have to go there.
Northview was reclassified as a Class 3A school by the Indiana High School Athletic Association since the 2012-2013 school year, meaning coach Scott McDonald won’t have to strategize against the host Orioles — currently second and at one time first in Class 4A — at Avon. When the pairings are drawn by the IHSAA on Monday morning, the Knights will be looking for their schedule at the Edgewood Sectional.
“When that word finally came out, I said to myself, ‘Finally we’ll be competing with somebody our size,’ ” McDonald said this week.
“I was ecstatic [to hear the news],” Morris added, “because I know we have so much potential still [to reach].”
“[Being in 3A] gives us a better chance of proving what we can do, and go farther,” said Clark. “It’s icing on the cake for our senior year.”
Morris, the Knights’ power hitter, and Clark, who is continuing the team’s outstanding libero tradition, are far from Northview’s only weapons. Juniors Taylor Hess, Kenzi Kumpf and Mikayla Rowan are rapidly approaching the 100-win club themselves, and sophomores Ashley Heck, Madison McDonald — the coach’s daughter — and Morgan Stearley are also rotation regulars for the second straight season.
“We have so many players,” Clark said this week. “Everybody on the team can contribute … it’s amazing what they do.”
The Knights were Class 4A sectional champions in 2009, but that was the year the current seniors were in the eighth grade. The first goals for Morris and Clark, therefore, are easy to pick out.
Wednesday’s win wrapped up a Western Indiana Conference championship for the Knights and means they’ve beaten every team in the all-WIC sectional lineup.
“It’s still going to be tough competition, but our season prepares us for that,” Clark said.
“We could still not win,” McDonald acknowledged, pointing out the sectional will be on the home court of an Edgewood team that extended the Knights to four games on Northview’s court, “but there’s a chance. And we could make a deep run, do something none of our volleyball teams has done before.”
“With the opportunity we have, it’s going to be phenomenal,” Morris predicted. “We want to show everybody what our volleyball team is.”
Northview’s losses this season have come against Perry Meridian, currently 11th in Class 4A; Barr-Reeve, the No. 2 team in Class A; and a ranked team from Kentucky; Northview won a game against all three (all were in best-of-three tournament formats).
Coach McDonald noticed something in those matches — and also in many of the victories, of course — that may separate this team from some of the other outstanding Northview teams.
“Killer instinct,” he said. “There’s a lot of fight in this team. The tournaments we’ve played, from a preparation perspective, have done nothing but develop toughness and fight.”
“It’s the focus and determination … that all of us have,” Morris said.
Both senior players mentioned the family aspect of their team too, and their enjoyment of practice.
“Most people probably don’t practice the way we do,” Morris said. “We have music, we’re not afraid to laugh, we have a good time … but we get everything we need done, and we know what’s going down [in the upcoming match].”
“We’re calm in practice. It’s not high-stress, and I think that translates to games,” coach McDonald said. “Everybody feeds off each other … and you wind up with skill plus mental toughness, and a little bit of fight.”