CLAY CITY —
The sign outside the Clay City High School gym read “Different team, same dream.”
That dream is still alive, as the Eels captured their second straight Class A Sectional 57 volleyball championship Saturday night.
Clay City, with just three starters back from last year’s semistate team, overpowered a young White River Valley team 25-13, 25-18, 26-24 to earn a berth in the regional Tuesday night. The Eels will travel to the winner of Class A Sectional 58.
An up-and-down 13-10 season, filled with drama on and off the court, turned into a championship season under the leadership of seniors Halli Brewer, Callie Dayhuff, Chloe Kittle and Mackenzee Mckittrick.
Vance Edmondson, who stepped in to coach the team shortly before the opening match, said the Eels believed all season they could win.
“The hard work and dedication these girls showed all year long paid off tonight. I’m very proud of them. The girls believed all year long we could do this. We had some key returners coming back, Chloe, Callie, and Halli and Mackenzee and we put the pieces together, and filled in a couple of spots. I think we expected to be here,” Edmondson said.
Brewer led the Eels’ net attack with 15 kills and Dayhuff had 10, Emmie Kittle passed out 26 assists. Dayhuff also served four aces, two coming in game three when WRV made its stand.
The Eels dominated the first two games of the championship match with WRV. They never trailed, building a 20-8 lead in game won behind the middle hitting of Brewer and outside attack of Dayhuff. In game two, Clay City led just 9-8 before pulling away to a 25-18 victory.
“After last year, we had a chip on our shoulder and we had to defend our title,” Brewer said.
But White River Valley, a 10-15 team with a roster of five freshmen, three sophomores and just one senior, was not going home quickly.
The Wolverines may look back at Game 3 of the title match as the coming-out party for sophomore Shannon Pittman. The middle hitter made six of her team-high nine kills as the Wolverines built a 15-12 lead on a Pittman block.
WRV led 18-16 when Allison Wininger hammered down a kill.
“WRV fought to the bitter end and we knew they would. We talked in those timeouts there at the end that we wanted to win the game. We didn’t want them to give it to us,” Edmondson said.
Dayhuff tied it a final time at 24-24, then made a cross-court kill to end the match.
White River Valley 13 18 24
Clay City 25 25 26
Highlights — For Clay City, Halli Brewer led the Eels with 15 kills and 9 digs, while Callie Dayhuff had 10 kills, 11 digs and served 4 aces. Emmie Kittle passed out 26 assists and made 10 digs and Chloe Kittle finished with 9 digs and 5 kills. White River Valley was led by Allison Wininger hit 7 kills and came up with 17 digs, while Shannon Pittman led the Wolverines with 9 kills. Madison Hockman passed out 20 assists and had 8 digs. Alexandra Downey made 17 digs, Taylor Resler 12 and Alexis Graves 11.
Next — Clay City (13-10) plays at the winner of Sectional No. 58 on Tuesday night. White River Valley finished 10-16.