Braves looking to ‘plow their way to state’

After capturing a sectional championship last week, the Brownstown Central volleyball team has taken on a new theme for the remainder of the postseason.

Head coach Jennifer Shade said the Braves are “plowing our way to state.”

The team has tried to embody that on and off the court. They’ve done everything from making their own tractor pulls to riding horses, going on treasure hunts, having a hayride and even watching their dads do some dance moves.

“We have practiced hard the first part of the week,” Shade said. “Now, we are backing off and trying to keep everyone healthy. It’s a fun week. We have had a fun dinner party with the parents. What memories this team is making.”

The next opponent in the Braves’ path to state is North Posey this Saturday in the Mitchell Regional. The Vikings are 26-7 this season and won the Perry Central Sectional.

Brownstown and North Posey are scheduled to play at approximately 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Mitchell High School. Their match will follow Hauser versus Linton-Stockton at 11 a.m. The winner of both of those matches will play for the regional championship at 7 p.m.

Saturday features a trio of opponents that Brownstown has yet to see this season.

“One challenge is we don’t have any common opponents, so it’s hard to judge what to expect,” Shade said. “Being young, turning nervousness into positive adrenaline will be another challenge. Looking at (North Posey) specifically, we will need to serve aggressively to keep them off balance.”

Serving aggressive was a key in Brownstown winning its own sectional last week. The Braves beat Mitchell, Eastern (Pekin) and Austin all 3-0 to win their fourth-straight sectional title.

Shade has coached a team to a state championship before, and that came in 2019. Only one player on this year’s roster was part of the program during that time, and that’s senior Kalee Borden.

Brownstown has a very young team. The Braves’ roster started the year with 25 sophomores and freshmen and just four juniors and seniors with Borden being the lone senior.

There are 10 underclassmen on the sectional roster, and Brownstown is 17-15 this season and endured a very tough regular season schedule.

But Shade put the Braves through it to make them ready for the postseason. Shade can sense the confidence in her team, especially after last week’s triumphs.

“Confidence is building on our team,” Shade said. “They are really starting to believe they can accomplish big things. They don’t want to lose.”