Braves get back to winning ways, sweep New Albany



Losses haven’t been a common occurrence for the Brownstown Central volleyball team.

Earlier this week the Braves fell to Class 4A Bloomington South in straight sets for their first loss of the year and it served as a major teaching moment according to coach Jennifer Shade. 

It was easy to tell Thursday night the Braves learned their lesson, sweeping the New Albany Bulldogs (25-18, 25-13, 25-13) to get back to their winning ways. 

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Shade said suffering their first defeat of the year the other night wasn’t the end of the world for her group.

"Sometimes a loss isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen," Shade said. "Bloomington South played flawless, I commend them because they played an absolutely great match."

Early in the first set, however, it appeared as though the Braves were going to need another lecture from coach Shade. A sluggish start put them behind 9-7 to the Dogs in the first set but a timeout and peptalk from Shade righted the ship.

Self-inflicted errors led to the early deficit for the Braves and Shade made sure to let her team know they were beating themselves. She also pointed out that teams, no matter the skill, will typically play each other close within the first 10 points of a match. After that point, the talent gap starts to show and the better team will pull away.

She was proven right after her girls dominated the rest of the set with an 8-0 run. Over the next two sets, they did the same with runs of 8-0 in the second and 9-0 in the third to close out the Bulldogs.

Not only was Shade pleased with her team in getting the win, she was also happy they showed some enthusiasm after won points. She noted that her team has missed that at stages early in the season. 

"A big part of volleyball is to get momentum and keep the blood flowing," Shade said. "They proved my points that if you’re on and you’re celebrating then the game becomes easy at that point. That third game showed we had more enthusiasm than them at that point."

Keeli Darlage led the Braves in the attacking department, going 21-for-23 with 10 kills. She was followed by Kendra McCory’s nine kills and Kayla Guthrie’s seven. Halle Hehman was the top server for Brownstown Central, going a near-perfect 16 of 17 with three aces. Riley Nuss and Darlage each added two aces.

In junior varsity action, the Braves defeated New Albany 2-1 (25-10, 24-26, 15-3). Brownstown Central dominated the first set and nearly erased a six-point second set deficit for the sweep. They showed they were the better side in the third and final set, dominating the Bulldogs.

Carlee Walker had seven kills and was followed by Tinley Gray and Kamryn Rollins, who had five and two kills, respectively. 

Up next, the Braves will head south to Providence for the Pioneer Invitational, which begins at 9 a.m. at Providence High School.  

Shade stated they will see Bloomington South again during the invite and is excited to see how her girls respond after they’ve had the chance to scout a team. 

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