By Jake Thompson
Hendricks County Flyer
INDIANAPOLIS — The 16-team Class 4A volleyball field was whittled down to eight squads following Tuesday night’s regional action across the state.
No. 2-ranked Avon made the cut for the third consecutive year with a 25-16, 27-25, and 25-11 win over No. 11-ranked Perry Meridian (24-9).
It’s the fourth step in Avon’s journey back to the state finals where the Orioles took home the Class 4A title a season ago.
“Defensively we played great, and we serve/received outstanding,” Avon coach Scott McQueen said. “I thought our girls played well, because I don’t think Perry played poorly.”
Avon’s multi-faceted offense was just too much for Perry to overcome, though the Falcons had opportunities.
“I’ll give them credit and that’s as hard as I’ve seen (Avon) play this year,” Perry Meridian coach Pat Carlson said.
The two teams battled back and forth and went through 11 ties before the first set was knotted at 14 all. Behind Rebekah Strange’s serve, the Orioles went on a mini 4-0 run but that’s all the separation Avon needed as it scored the next 7 of 9 points en route to a first set victory.
Perry and Avon battled hard in the second set and the teams were knotted up 19 different instances. Up 25-24, Perry had a chance to even the match, but Avon’s experience and skill resulted in three straight points for the win and a 2-0 advantage. Strange recorded ace’s on Avon’s last two serves.
“We had a chance and had a game point and when you don’t seize an opportunity when it’s time, then (Avon’s) too good,” Carlson said.
Avon’s confidence and patience in tough situations and the experience the team draws from has a lot to do with several deep postseason runs over the past few years.
But even senior Shelby Connors can’t fully explain how they rise up to each challenge.
“We’re all really close and that’s what every team tries to do, we just somehow end up doing it better and I have no idea how,” Connors said.
Down 2-0 in the match, Perry kept it close early in the third set as Avon led 10-8 and then Strange went on a tear, serving 11 of her team-high 23 points to put Avon up 20-8.
“She’s a monster,” Carlson said of Strange. “I hit a hundred and fifty thousand million jump serves this week to do exactly what she can do and I can’t simulate it because she’s that good.”
Beth Prince led the team with 15 kills and Calle Weddle recorded nine while Lindsay Thompson chipped in six.
Rachel Griffin led in assists with 38, playing another “outstanding game” according to McQueen. Brooke Peters and Strange each tallied nine digs.
Avon (34-3) takes on No. 6 Floyd Central (29-8) after the 11 a.m. semi-state game between No. 17 Bishop Chatard (23-13) and No. 10 Columbus East (25-12) to determine who plays in the final at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Seymour.
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