Owls push Highlanders but fall short in sectional title match

JEFFERSONVILLE — Two of the top Class 4A volleyball teams in southern Indiana met in the championship of the Jeffersonville Sectional on Saturday night, and when the final point went up on the scoreboard, Floyd Central defeated Seymour 27-25, 25-16, 26-24.

Floyd Central was ranked seventh and Seymour was ranked 12th in the final coaches poll of the regular season. That poll includes teams in all four classes. The Highlanders (29-6) advance to the Bloomington North Regional, where they will play Center Grove on Saturday.

The Owls advanced to the finals by defeating Jeffersonville 25-22, 25-9, 25-11 in the semifinals Saturday morning.

Owls coach Angie Lucas said, “This is a very good team. Floyd is fantastic, and when they’re in system, you can’t stop them, and even when they’re out of system, their hitters are smart. They were hitting a lot of cross-court shots, and we weren’t picking it up, and our defense just wasn’t reading it fast enough tonight, so our defense hurt us a little bit.”

The Owls had their chances, especially in the first and third sets, but just couldn’t get enough points to claim a win.

“We had our opportunities. It just didn’t happen for us,” Lucas said.

The first set was tied 11 times. The Owls led 25-24 on an attack kill by Olivia Fish before the Highlanders rallied to score the final three points.

Seymour trailed 4-0 at the start of the second set and closed to trail 10-8 on an ace serve by Raeann Baker before the Highlanders went on a 9-3 run.

Anna Fish had a kill for Seymour’s final point of the set before Caroline Hilbrich had a kill for set point for the Highlanders.

The teams traded the lead throughout the third set several times, and the score was tied 18 times.

Cali Cummings had a kill and Floyd Central had a passing error on the next play to tie the set at 24 before the Highlanders scored the final two points for their second straight Class 4A sectional title and the 20th overall for coach Bart Powell.

Lucas said Floyd’s ability to battle back and regain control in the first and third sets after the Owls went ahead “is just a sign of Floyd. Floyd does that. That is what they do. They don’t quit, and that’s what I told the girls in the locker room, that Floyd Central’s teams just do not quit. They just find a way, and that is something that we have to work on.”

The Owls were 82-92-25 in attacks with Olivia Fish 39-42-14, Cummings 12-13-3 and Breanna Lawrence 13-17-3.

The team was 64-68-5 in serves with Addi Lemon 14-14-1, Greer Henry 18-20-2 and Olivia Fish 9-9-1.

Lawrence had five digs, and Lemon had 17 assists.

Seymour was 51-56-28 in attacks against Jeffersonville with Olivia Fish 19-20-10, Cummings 12-13-9 and Journee Brown 7-7-4.

Seymour was 63-71-9 in attacks with Henry 14-15-2, Norah Campbell 13-13-1 and Olivia Fish 11-13-2.

Lemon had 22 assists, and Henry had 13 digs.

Olivia Fish, Cummings and Lemon are seniors, and Lucas said all three are planning to play volleyball in college.

“I can’t say enough about these seniors and their parents and what they mean to this program,” Lucas said. “There are just not enough words to say about them.”

Seymour finished 28-5, and the Owls have won 54 matches the past two seasons.

“It says a lot about these three seniors that we have leading our program,” Lucas said. “They’re leaving us now, and that was a tough conversation in the locker room for them and for me.

“I’ve told them, and I’ve said this many times, I really don’t know what the gym will look like without those three seniors. They’ve been in the gym for four years with us playing crucial roles. They’re going to go on and do great things, and I’m excited for what their futures are going to look like.

“I’m proud of the girls,” Lucas said. “They hung in there against (Floyd). The first and last set could have been anybody’s set. We just didn’t have a little luck there when we needed it.”

With the other 11 members of the sectional roster, plus other players from the junior varsity and C teams returning, Lucas said she expects the Owls to continue to win.

“We just keep building,” she said.