Braves blitz Edgewood, win first sectional title since 2013



A sectional championship has been a long time coming for the Brownstown Central volleyball team.

After coming up short the last several tries, the Braves finally broke through with a dominating performance in Saturday night’s sectional final.

Blasting the Edgewood Mustangs in straight sets 25-10, 25-10, 25-5, the Braves won their first sectional crown in six years and earned yet another achievement on their already successful 2019 campaign.

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Brownstown Central coach Jennifer Shade, who has led plenty of volleyball teams to postseason triumphs in the past, said her girls deserved to take home the trophy.

“This whole group, we started in April and we put so much time and sweat into this," Shade said. "Especially for the seniors, this has been a long time coming. They started when they were really young, they’ve worked together, played together for so long and they deserved this before they played their last season.”

It was fitting that senior Halle Hehman served the final point for the sectional title, which resulted in one of the Braves’ 14 aces on the night. 

The Braves went after the Mustangs, who simply had no answer for the aggressive serves coming from the other side of the net. 

If the ball didn’t land on the court after leaving a Braves’ hand, it was hardly controlled and passed by an Edgewood player. 

Shade explained they were trying to keep the Mustangs’ offense off balance and that serving hard-to-return balls was step No. 1 in keeping it away from their hitters. 

If they could consistently keep them on the defensive, it would result in another easy win for the Braves said Shade. 

Sophomore Reagan Nuss led the braves with four aces while Riley Nuss and Kayla Guthrie had three and two, respectively. 

“We served really aggressive and that’s a great way to get a team off the floor," senior Keeli Darlage said. "It gets them frustrated with everything that they do. We just kept pushing them and frustrating them.”

Darlage was chief among the rocket launchers that is the Braves’ front row, netting nine kills. Fellow senior Addie Wilkerson totaled seven and Guthrie had five.

Saturday night’s final tally would lend itself to the belief that Brownstown Central’s offense pulverized their opponent. 

They did, but that wouldn’t give enough credit to their excellent defense that kept denying Edgewood any opportunity at an attack — especially in the final set. 

Whether it was the front row blocking or tipping shots, or the back row digging out every kill attempt, nothing was getting by them.

"We can count on the front row to slow it down so that the back row can pick it up," Shade said. "When the front misses it, usually we have defender off their shoulder that’s ready to pick up the ball. So, it’s an all around effort and it takes all of us.”

Though Darlage was happy to finally lift a sectional trophy, she was a little disappointed they couldn’t do so against familiar faces.

Sectional realignment moved the Braves further up north and away from their Mid-Southern Conference opponents down south, most notably rival Silver Creek. 

“I wish we would have stayed in our old sectional because it would have felt really good to win a sectional there," Darlage said. "Being here, it was new and no one knew what to expect.”

Though it didn’t seem like the Braves didn’t know what they were getting, running through the sectional with relative ease. 

Yet, that might be the product of great coaching and even better scouting. 

There was a lot of extra work that went into preparing for this sectional according to Shade. With their regular season schedule already set, it wasn’t as if they could change opponents so they could get a look at potential postseason matchups. 

The teams were so different in the Owen Valley sectional, there weren’t very many common opponents Shade and her staff could try to draw comparisons with. 

They’ll have to continue to fly blind on Saturday at the Danville regional against Speedway at noon. But count on the Braves to me more than prepared to take on the Sparkplugs with the hopes of advancing to a regional final. 

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Brownstown Central’s 2019 Sectional 26 Championship Roster

Seniors: Halle Hehman, Addie Wilkerson, Keeli Darlage, Riley Nuss.

Juniors: Myka Keltz, Jennifer Pence, Kendra McCory, Kayla Guthrie.

Sophomores: Reagan Nuss, Zoe Stuckwish, Erin Singleton, Kelsey Wischmeier.


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