High school volleyball seasons came to an end for Terre Haute South and Terre Haute North in the Class 4A Brownsburg Sectional on Saturday.
But in both semifinal contests, the Braves and Patriots went down swinging.
Avon (32-2), the defending Class 4A state champion and currently ranked No. 2, swept North 3-0, while underrated Brownsburg (25-8) outlasted South 3-1. Avon and Brownsburg advanced to the sectional championship match Saturday night.
South, with two freshmen and a sophomore starting and a first-year varsity coach, finished with a 17-18 record.
“Great year. I talked to [the Braves] afterward, the difference between us and a team like [Brownsburg] is those girls play high-intensity club [volleyball] year round, and that this should just feed their fire to work hard in the off-season,” interim coach Stephanie Millington said.
North, with two sophomores and two juniors starting, closed with a 23-11 mark.
“Plus we had a good [junior varsity] season. We got some good sophomores and some other good kids coming back. We got some bright things coming. It’s awfully hard to lose this group of [eight] seniors,” North coach Kris Painter said.
South won the first game 26-24, but Brownsburg took the next three tight games 25-20, 25-20, 25-21.
The largest margin by either team in Game 1 was an 18-14 South advantage. The Braves never trailed by more than three.
South sophomore Kaitlyn Newton, who finished with 23 kills for the match, had seven kills in the opening game. Setter Natalie Scamihorn, who passed out 44 assists for the match, went to five different hitters in the first game.
“That first game showed [the Braves] they could play with anybody. I think sometimes that was our biggest problem this year, not believing in ourselves,” Millington said.
Brownsburg took the lead early in Game 2 and pulled ahead 19-13. The Braves grabbed some late momentum, cutting the deficit to 22-19 on a Williams block.
Game 3 was a repeat of Game 2, with Brownsburg taking an early lead before South again took control late. The Braves rallied from a nine-point hole to within one, 21-20, getting a big block from Maddie Callahan and Meaghan Etling and a kill by Newton.
Trailing 2-1, South jumped out to a 5-0 lead in game four. A kill by Newton and an ace from Etling got the Braves out to a strong start.
“I feel like we took a little momentum at the end of the [third game] and I told them to run with that, do not give [the momentum] back to them. They ran with it for a while,” Millington said.
Brownsburg chipped away at South’s advantage to go ahead 8-7. A kill by Callahan put the Braves up 16-12 before the host Bulldogs tied the score 17-17. The score was tied at 20-20 when Brownsburg got a fortunate bounce off the net and served two straight aces to take control.
In the second semifinal, Avon just had too much size at the net for North. Avon’s Beth Price, Calle Weddle and Rachel Griffin, plus the outside hitting of Rebekah Strange, at times, overwhelmed the Patriots.
“If we didn’t get a hand on it, didn’t get a block on it, they found a way. Even if we did they found a way to get it up over the top of us. But our kids didn’t give up [and] it would have been easy too, but they play [hard],” Painter said.
Avon won the first game 25-20, took the second 25-17 and finished the match 25-17.
North played Avon even through Game 1. The score was tied 10-10 when Brianna Burgess gave the Patriots a momentary edge with a kill. The Patriots and Orioles were deadlocked at 20-20 when the tall and talented Price took control with three consecutive kills.
Avon led Game 2 all the way, building an eight-point lead early and maintaining it.
Already down 2-0 in the match, the Patriots fought for their season in Game 3. North’s Anna Taylor served an ace, and Mandee Eberle and Burgess tied the score 14-14.
But Avon responded with a 5-1 run to take a 19-15 advantage. The Patriots tried, as Burgess — a senior playing her final game — put down two kills. But the Orioles prevailed.
“I just told them, if you’re going to lose, you’re going to hope you get beat by somebody who is better than you are. [Avon is] good and they’ve got an opportunity to go a way [in the tournament] and they got to get past us to keep going. I thought that every single play we fought for everything we could get and we didn’t give up. If you’re going to get beat and you’re going to end your season, you going to hope it’s to somebody like that,” Painter said.
Terre Haute South 26 20 20 21
Brownsburg 24 25 25 25
Highlights — For South, Caitlyn Newton had a double-double of 23 kills and 25 digs and Maddie Callahan added 13 kills. Natalie Scamihorn passed out 44 assists, while Marissa Coutinho had 13 kills. Meaghan Etling had 5 kills and 3 aces and Bailee Williams 6 kills. For Brownsburg, Makenzie Mason had 15 kills and Brooke Gregory had 8 kills, 5 blocks and 3 aces.
Terre Haute North 20 17 20
Avon 25 25 25
Highlights — For North, Brianna Burgess had 12 kills and 6 digs and Mandee Eberle had 11 kills and served 3 aces. Anna Taylor passed out 23 assists and came up with 11 digs. Madeline Howes finished with 6 digs and Kristin Mauer 5 digs. For Avon, Beth Prince had 15 kills and Calle Weddle had 11 kills, 2 blocks and 2 aces.
Records — South finished the season 17-18 and North closed at 23-11.