By Jake Thompson
Hendricks County Flyer
SEYMOUR — SEYMOUR — Avon volleyball coach Scott McQueen said he believes the Orioles have played their best volleyball of the season over the past three matches in regional and semi-state action. No. 2 Avon dispatched its latest victim, No 10-ranked Columbus East, 25-22, 25-17, and 25-13 for their third consecutive semi-state title Saturday night in Seymour.
“Our path has been pretty tough and we’ve beaten a lot of ranked and pretty good teams to get here,” McQueen said. “I didn’t think we executed very well this morning, but we battled through and started executing really well tonight.”
Avon, the defending Class 4A state champions, returns to Ball State’s Worthen Arena for a third year and an opportunity at another state title.
“We’ve always wanted to get back from the opening practice this year,” Avon senior Rebekah Strange said. “We’ve just pushed our way through and have so much passion for this game.”
Avon junior Beth Prince has only been to state title games throughout her prep career, but doesn’t take that fact or the opportunity for granted.
“After you win (a state title) you have the strong desire to go back that’s just huge,” Prince said. “We knew this season would be up and down… a climb. We just wanted to get back there more than anything in the world.”
Prince finished the night with a double-double recording 13 kills and 11 digs.
Avon jumped out to an early 5-1 advantage in the first set before Columbus East responded, surging out to an 18-16 advantage, their first lead of the night.
After McQueen called a timeout, Avon battled back with a Calle Weddle block giving the Orioles a 19-18 lead, one they didn’t relinquish.
Columbus East took their second, and last lead, of the match going up 1-0 in the second set, before Avon jumped ahead 10-3, prompting Olympians coach Faith Wilder-Newland to call timeout. Avon stretched out to a 10-point advantage at 17-7 and while the Olympians fought back to within five, Prince kept them at bay with two kills and Strange ended the set with two straight kills from the left side.
Strange finished the night with eight kills and four ace’s.
Down 2-0 in the match, Columbus East was lethargic in the third set. Avon built an 11-point lead at 17-6 and coasted to an easy victory.
Rachel Griffin led Avon from her setter position with 27 assists and Brooke Peters recorded 13 digs. Weddle finished with eight kills and Shelby Connors tallied five blocks.
Avon knocked off No. 6 Floyd Central in the early game 25-20, 25-22, and 25-16. Prince (13), Weddle (11) and Strange (10) led the team in kills. Griffin tallied 38 assists, Peters recorded 17 digs and Connors blocked six shots.
Avon (36-3) takes on No. 1 Carmel (37-1) for a state title in a rematch of last year’s Class 4A championship game. The Orioles took that contest in five sets.
“We thought this would be the possibility,” McQueen said. “We’re proud to be able to go back and will get ready for Carmel on Monday.”