TERRE HAUTE —
Class 4A volleyball sectional action, for the past several years, has been a good way for the Wabash Valley’s three biggest programs to establish final bragging rights for the season, and that could be the case again this week.
Northview, Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South are all in the same bracket of the Class 4A Plainfield Sectional. If one of them emerges from there into Saturday night’s championship match, the king of the hill will have been established (with the possibility of one dissenting vote).
The problem is the fourth team in that bracket — defending champion Martinsville, the only team coming to Plainfield that’s getting votes in the state coaches’ poll. Some consider the Artesians to be favorites again, although Northview has a chance to refute those predictions at 6 p.m. Thursday.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to do that,” coach Scott McDonald of the 28-5 Knights said recently. “There’s a little bit of revenge involved [for a sectional semifinal loss to Martinsville a year ago at Martinsville].”
Revenge isn’t exactly the motive in Thursday’s second contest, a North-South rematch from a regular-season match won by the 16-13 Braves — who have won something like 18 straight regular-season matches over the 16-8 Patriots. North beat South in a tournament match on the Braves’ court last season, however.
“Ever since that [regular-season] game, the [North] girls have talked about [South] being who they wanted to draw,” coach Kris Painter of North said recently. “We’re looking forward to playing [the Braves] again. We feel we’ve played better since that match, and we hope to do that this time.”
Strength of schedule is the trump card the Braves like to play in this situation, and coach Madison Minnick indicated earlier this week that she thinks her team gained momentum from close matches against third-ranked Columbus East and Class 3A power Brownstown Central on Saturday.
“We’re really excited,” she said. “We played [those teams] really well, and we’re healthier now … nobody missed any matches, but we had some achy people, and they’re feeling better.”
None of the three coaches indicated this week that they’d be making any changes for postseason play.
“Being consistent all-around is the key for us,” Minnick said. “Our defense and serve-receive has been good all year, so if our hitting is consistent we’ll have what we need to be successful.”
Painter didn’t use the word, but also hopes for consistency this week.
“The last couple weeks we’ve done a lot better job holding steady all the way through [matches],” she said. “I’d like to see us not get down too quickly if things don’t go our way.”
“I’d like our serve-receive to get a little better,” McDonald said, “but [the Knights are] a real close group that can grind out wins. There’s
a lot of fight here. There’s
no fear going into this
In Class 3A tournament play, West Vigo opens the Owen Valley Sectional at 6 p.m. Thursday against Edgewood, a long-time nemesis, and coach Cami Readinger said this week she’d dredged up a painful family memory to help the Vikings prepare.
“I’ve been telling them my dad’s [baseball] team was 24-0 and lost its first sectional game,” said Readinger (whose maiden name is DeGroote), “so anyone can be upset. We’re looking for senior leadership and keeping our attitudes positive.”
That latter goal has been a tough one for a team that shows flashes of being better than its five-win season would indicate. “[The Vikings] don’t like making mistakes,” Readinger said. “They let mistakes stay [with them] too long.”
Readinger feels Brown County and Edgewood are favorites among five Western Indiana Conference teams among the six at Owen Valley; the Eagles beat the Mustangs when the two teams played their WIC match at West Vigo early in the season, she pointed out.
The WIC champion was Northview, and Sullivan — the final conference member — is playing in the Class 2A Eastern Greene Sectional, meeting Linton in tonight’s only sectional match in the Wabash Valley. The winner could reach the Saturday night final, but the host team is the defending state runner-up and ranked fourth this year.
The other Valley team that might like to be considered in the Northview-North-South discussion is Riverton Parke, the Wabash River Conference champion. The Panthers lost a four-game match to North back in August and has lost only twice since then.
Riverton Parke, which also drew a first-round bye, is the favorite and defending champion at an otherwise balanced Class A Covington Sectional, while host Clay City was a regional champion last season and the probable favorite in the Valley’s other Class A tourney.
Thursday — Martinsville vs. Northview, 6 p.m., followed by Terre Haute North vs. Terre Haute South
Saturday — Thursday’s winners, 11 a.m., followed by Mooresville vs. Plainfield; championship 7 p.m.
At Owen Valley
Thursday — West Vigo vs. Edgewood, 6 p.m., followed by Greencastle vs. Owen Valley
Saturday — Thursday’s winners, 11 a.m., followed by South Vermillion vs. Brown County; championship 7 p.m.
At Eastern Greene
Today — Linton vs. Sullivan, 7 p.m.
Thursday — Eastern Greene vs. North Central, 6 p.m., followed by South Knox vs. Bloomfield
Saturday — North Knox vs. Tuesday winner, 11 a.m., followed by Thursday’s winners; championship 7 p.m.
Thursday — Covington vs. Rockville, 6 p.m., followed by Attica vs. Turkey Run
Saturday — Thursday’s winners, 6 p.m., followed by Riverton Parke vs. North Vermillion; championship 7 p.m.
At Clay City
Thursday — Clay City vs. Eminence, 7 p.m.
Saturday — Shakamak vs. White River Valley, 11 a.m., followed by Union vs. Thursday winner; championship 7 p.m.