It’s a familiar road the Avon Orioles volleyball team is travelling and one that’s been paved with much success. Of the past four regional titles Avon has won, twice the Orioles have advanced into the state finals with this season’s outcome to be determined.
Avon will have another chance to make a trip to Ball State’s Worthen Arena in a bid at another state championship for a third straight season if it can secure two more wins Saturday at the Seymour semi-state.
The competition will be stiff, as it usually is deep in any sport’s postseason, but coach Scott McQueen believes his squad is ready and battle tested from a season playing some of the best teams in and outside of Indiana.
“Quite frankly, that’s all right with us,” McQueen said of the level of play his team will face Saturday. “We’re not scared of anybody and we respect everybody. There’s a lot more meaning to it when you know it’s going to be a battle and challenge everyday.”
No. 2 Avon (34-3) takes on No. 6-ranked Floyd Central (29-8) following the 11 a.m. game between No. 10 Columbus East (25-12) and No. 17 Bishop Chatard (23-13) with the winners meeting at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
“Our kids respect everybody that’s down there and are excited for the challenge,” McQueen said. “That’s the whole point of this. You want to be able to take steps forward and look forward to the teams we play.”
Avon’s multi-faceted attack will make its opponents’ preparations very difficult.
With the outside hitting of Beth Prince and Calle Weddle, teams tend to load up to stop them. Prince leads the team with 355 kills and Weddle has tallied 343.
However, that’s when Shelby Connors and Lindsay Thompson start to flourish at the middle of the net, making teams try to cover both spots. Connors has 134 kills and Thompson has 126.
With an offensive onslaught like the Orioles possess, it’s important, if not imperative, to have a player getting the ball to the precise spots. That’s where Rachel Griffin comes in as the senior setter leads the squad in assists and puts her teammates in the best position to score.
Sometimes forgotten in this mix of offense is the tremendous defensive backline led by Brooke Peters, Rebekah Strange and Kennedy Wilson.
Strange leads the team in digs (356) and is also the leading server with 460 points. Peters is second in digs (244) and third in serves (328).
Everyone understands what’s on the line as they travel to Seymour. The six seniors were freshmen when the Orioles last lost at semi-state.
“Any game you play, could be your last game,” Connors said. “Going to Seymour, we just want to try and play our best. If we don’t end up winning at least we played our best. That’s all you can do.”