Minutes after helping Clay City win its first IHSAA sectional title in volleyball ever, senior outside hitter Brielle Drelick hugged teammates and soaked in the on-court atmosphere Saturday night.
“Oh my God!” she screamed when asked how emotional it felt to be a part of school history.
After losing the first game to Shakamak 25-20, the host Eels posted 25-11, 25-19, 25-15 victories to capture the Class A Clay City Sectional title.
Clay City will face the winner of the Indiana Deaf School Sectional at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Clay City Regional.
“You know, I had this feeling two years when we won the first [girls] basketball sectional in school history, then we won it again last year,” reflected the 5-foot-7 Drelick, who led Clay City with 18 kills against Shakamak. “So I’ve had this feeling before, but it does not get much better than this… I am truly blessed.”
“It’s great,” Clay City coach Lu Anne Anderson emphasized. “These seniors have been in the championship match three out of their four years here. Before they went home losers, but not this time… We worked for this all season. This was our No. 1 goal.”
Playing excellent in a losing effort for Shakamak was senior middle hitter Mikayla Crane, who racked up 21 kills.
“She’s very tough,” Drelick assessed. “I’ve been playing against Mikayla since I was in junior high … but my team has more than one player who can hit and that always helps.”
In the first game, the Lakers tied the score at 8-8 on an ace served by Riley Montgomery. Trailing 12-10 later, Shakamak tallied three unanswered points — the last on a kill by Crane — to move ahead 13-12.
With the score knotted at 14-14, the Lakers rattled off the next six points to go on top 20-14 before holding off the Eels down the stretch to seize a 1-0 advantage in games.
In Game 2, a 7-0 run that included one kill each from Meeghan Riggs and Drelick increased Clay City’s lead to 12-3. An 11-1 run that padded the Eels’ cushion to 24-10 sealed the outcome and evened the match at 1-1.
The third game resembled the first — close throughout — but this time Clay City finished with five straight points to secure a 2-1 lead.
Clay City jumped ahead 2-0, 5-3 and 7-5 in Game 4, but the Lakers battled back to force ties at 9, 12, 13 and 14. Then a 7-0 spurt — thanks largely to three kills by Drelick and an ace by Asie Jeffers — put the Eels in the drivers’ seat.
“We had a good first game,” Shakamak coach Brooke Collins said. “Our passing was really good. Our second and third games, our passing wasn’t as good.”
Meanwhile, Anderson and Drelick thought the Eels started to get their act together in Game 2.
“All tournament long, we’ve been slow starters in Game 1, so that wasn’t a surprise to me,” Anderson pointed out. “In Game 2, we finally got our offense running. We passed well and we have some great hitters. They were taking some awesome swings at the net.”
“More heart and more spirit,” Drelick insisted. “Our crowd was with us the entire time. They really helped.”
Shakamak 25 25 25
Union 12 15 9
Eminence 22 15 14
Clay City 25 25 25
Highlights — For Clay City, Brielle Drelick had 14 kills, 8 digs, 5 points and 4 aces; Halli Brewer had 8 kills; Asie Jeffers had 6 kills; Emmie Kittle had 27 assists, 5 kills, 8 points and 2 aces; Callie Dayhuff had 15 digs; and Chloe Kittle had 13 points and 3 aces.
Shakamak 25 11 19 15
Clay City 20 25 25 25
Highlights — For Clay City, Drelick had 18 kills and 9 digs; Brewer had 10 kills and 4 blocks; Jeffers had 5 kills, 5 blocks and 3 digs; Emmie Kittle had 29 assists and 5 digs; Dayhuff had 12 points and 11 digs; Meeghan Riggs had 7 kills and10 digs; and Chloe Kittle served 6 aces.
For Shakamak, Mikayla Crane had 21 kills, 13 digs, 7 blocks and 6 points; Taylor Myers had 23 assists and 4 kills; and Riley Montgomery had 7 digs, 5 points and 4 blocks.
Next — Clay City (18-10) will play the winner of the Indiana Deaf School Sectional at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Clay City Regional. Shakamak finished 8-21.