Seymour’s volleyball team came up with one of its best all-around performances of the season to defeat New Albany 21-25, 25-21, 25-9, 25-22 Thursday evening in the opening match of the Class 4A Jennings County Sectional.
“It was just pure guts,” coach Angie Lucas said. “These kids have had a really tough season. They overcame a lot of adversity along the way. We told them something good will come out of this if you keep working hard, and honestly, they just kept pushing and working.”
Lucas said serving was big plus for the Owls.
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“As far as skills, I thought serving helped us,” she said. “We served very well. They have some awesome hitters, and we were able to get touches on blocks, and that helped slow it down for our defense.”
The Owls were 88-95-6 in serves as Breanna Lawrence was 17-17-2, Lauren Knieriem was 12-13-1, Sydney Montgomery was 18-19 and Addi Lemon was 10-10-1.
The Bulldogs held a 7-5 lead in the fourth set before the Owls went on a 6-0 run and never trailed after that.
Several Owls chipped in on that rally, including kills by Maggie Connell, Olivia Fish and Lemon and an ace from Knieriem.
The score was tied at 15 and 21 before the Owls went on a 5-1 rally for the win. Match point came on a passing error by the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs opened a 9-2 lead in the first set, and the closest the Owls could get was at 22-18 on a kill by Knieriem.
The second set was tied at 14 before the Owls took control on a 5-1 run, and set point came on an attacking error by the Bulldogs.
Connell said she was especially pleased with the way the Owls dominated the third set as they turned a 5-4 deficit into a 10-5 lead and later used strings of six and four points to take command.
Connell and Fish did not play during the Hoosier Hills Conference match Sept. 24 that the Bulldogs won in three sets.
“This win feels amazing,” said Connell, a senior co-captain. “We’re all on cloud nine to be able to come back. They beat us in three sets during the season pretty handily, and just that feeling that we came back and to beat them 25-9 one set is amazing.”
During the 6-0 run, Connell and Lawrence each had two kills.
After the Bulldogs scored a point to make the score 16-7, Knieriem had two kills during the 4-0 run.
The final point in this set came on a passing error by the Bulldogs.
“I can’t even explain it,” Connell said of the big win. “We played as a team. It was a family.”
Connell credited the defense and serving.
“Our defense was on point,” she said. “Our serving was amazing. That’s what carried us. We’re definitely excited. We’re going to practice (today) and prepare for Providence. They’re a beatable team. I think we’ve got it if we play like we played tonight.”
The Owls (16-15) will face Providence at 11 a.m. Saturday in the next round.
Fish led the attacking with 40-47-9, Connell was 13-15-9 and Knieriem was 23-27-9. Fish had 18 digs.
Lemon was 82-84-24 in sets and drew praise from Lucas for her play all over the floor.
“I thought Addi Lemon played a really great match for us,” Lucas said. “She ran the offense. She set the ball well to our hitters. She got the ball to where we needed it, and we were able to get some effective swings off of it.”
Lucas said she felt the team was ready for a great sectional performance, and this was a first step.
“It was an all-around great match, and I couldn’t be more proud of this team because of what they had to go through,” she said, referring to an early season quarantine because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We know it doesn’t get any easier, but we’re happy to still be in it.”