MUNCIE — Repeating a state championship is never an easy task. Some say it’s harder the second time around, with pressure building throughout the season and intensifying as the postseason arrives.
Such was the case for the Avon volleyball team, winners of last year’s Class 4A state title, as they faced Carmel Saturday night for the second consecutive season in the finals.
As it did last postseason, No. 2 Avon played its best when everything was on the line, defeating No. 1 Carmel 17-25, 25-19, 25-14, 25-18 for a second straight state championship.
“It was a big motivation for them all season long,” Avon coach Scott McQueen said of his team’s desire to again reach the state finals. “It proved that last year wasn’t just a fluke. I don’t think people understand how hard it is to get here.
“There were a lot of jitters a lot of times this season because there was such a big target on our back along with the expectation that we were going to automatically make it back.”
Carmel took the first set after Avon built an 11-5 lead, going on a 10-2 run thanks to a litany of Orioles’ errors before taking a 15-13 advantage. Carmel finished on a 10-4 run, but Avon didn’t panic.
“We just looked at each other and said we needed to calm down and breathe,” Avon outside hitter Beth Prince said. “We were in our own heads. We looked at each other and literally said, ‘You do you and I’ll do me.’”
Whatever Avon did between the first two sets worked, because the Orioles came out focused and began to assert its will on Carmel.
Avon never trailed in the second, set as the Orioles handed Carmel its first set loss in 34 games.
Picking up where it left off, Avon jumped out to a 6-0 lead behind Brooke Peters’ serve in the third set and won by an 11-point margin. Kills by Rebekah Strange, Calle Weddle and Beth Prince, and an Aly Matern ace, closed out the set, giving Avon a decisive 2-1 match advantage.