Braves fall in four sets to Miners in regional final


MITCHELL — Every time the door opened from the Brownstown Central locker room, a disappointed face walked out to greet their friends and family, seeking comfort that the volleyball season had just ended.

It didn’t matter if it was a freshman experiencing it for the first time or a senior knowing there’s no more high school volleyball on the horizon, the emotion for the Braves was all the same. But as head coach Jennifer Shade pointed out to her team, they lost to the better team Saturday night in the regional championship.

Brownstown lost to the better team in Linton-Stockton 3-1, and that’s OK. Because another thing Shade emphasized was in all of her years coaching the game, this might be the most improved team she has ever instructed on the court.

“They were the better team tonight. They played flawless. Their defense was amazing,” Shade said of the Miners. “But I said what I’m going to focus on this season is if you watched us play in June in summer league and you watched us play now, this is probably the most improved team I’ve ever coached. We’re very young, so the future looks very good.”

Linton-Stockton took the first set 25-17 to get off to a good start. In the second set, Brownstown stormed out to a 6-1 lead.

The Braves led 12-8, then 12-10 and still held onto the lead at 18-17. But the Miners were able to go on a 4-0 run to gain a 21-18 advantage to eventually win the second set 25-21.

All momentum belonged to Linton-Stockton, but Brownstown wasn’t ready to have its season end without a fight.

The Braves were trailing 9-6 before going on a 7-2 run to take a 13-11 lead. They led 19-15, then 22-21 and then it was tied at 23.

A kill from Addison Darlage and an attacking error from Linton-Stockton kept Brownstown alive as they won the third set 25-23.

“We could’ve easily just folded in that third game after losing in the first two,” Shade said. “To win that game shows that we did bring fight.”

Linton-Stockton was able to grab hold of the fourth set midway through and win it 25-15. Match point, fittingly, came off of a block from the Miners’ middle blockers. Their size up front gave Brownstown issues all night.

“The big blockers were definitely hard for our hitters to get it past the block,” Shade said. “Just something we haven’t faced for a while. These kids are young and they learn, and it’s just a steppingstone. Our future looks bright.”

In the match, Brownstown served 66-77 with three aces. Missing 11 serves was uncharacteristic for the Braves and what got them to this point.

“We missed serves tonight, which shows you’re just struggling mentally a bit,” Shade said. “We made a lot more errors tonight, but they were playing aggressive and making us make errors.”

Brownstown hit 115-147 with 49 kills. Kalee Borden led the team with 17 kills, Sophie Wischmeier had 14 and Darlage had seven.

Before the regional title match, Brownstown had to defeat North Posey in the semifinal. The Braves were able to do so in four sets 26-24, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22.

The team served 83-89 with eight aces and hit 147-168 with 63 kills. Kinzee Dean served up four aces, while Jaydynn Yeadon had one.

Wischmeier had 24 kills, Borden had 16 and Dean had seven. It looked like North Posey had a shot to force a fifth set, but Brownstown was able to close it out, which again showed the growth of Shade’s team.

“About a month ago in that same situation, I’m not sure we would’ve won,” Shade said. “To watch us go ahead and win those sets, it shows me how much we’ve grown.”

Linton-Stockton defeated Hauser 3-0 to advance to the regional final. The Miners (27-5) will now play Indianapolis Scecina Memorial in the semistate at either Jasper or Columbus East.

Brownstown finishes its season 18-16, and the Braves had one senior in Borden.

“It’s rare that you have only one senior. It was a new experience for us, but it was awesome,” Shade said of Borden. “She took those kids in like they were her little babies. In fact, they called her ‘mom’ at practice a lot of times. She just brought them along with her. She treated them just like teammates versus I’m older and better. She just treated them as equals, and she made it for a very fun season.”

The Braves will return 13 of the 14 players on this year’s sectional roster, and 10 of those players were either freshmen or sophomores.

As Shade said numerous times Saturday night, she believes the future is bright for Brownstown Central volleyball.

“We were concerned nerves were going to be a problem, and I don’t think that was our issue today,” Shade said. “We got beat by the better team tonight. The growth just in those kids, and they’ve taken in every moment of every sectional play, every regional play. It has been so fun to go on this ride with them.”

No posts to display