MUNCIE — For Avon’s six seniors, Saturday night’s volleyball state championship victory over Carmel was the culmination of years of hard work.
Logan Beeson, Lindsay Thompson, Rebekah Strange, Shelby Connors, Rachel Griffin and Emma Carmichael all have played integral parts in Avon’s recent success, that now includes back-to-back state titles.
“The expectations that we were going to be in the finals the last three years definitely does not portray how difficult the path has been,” Avon coach Scott McQueen said. “The kids in the finals this year battled the entire match, and I thought it was a great snapshot of how hard they have had to battle the last three years as well.
“As talented as the group is, the effort and hard work is what propelled this group to new heights. They learned from the groups ahead of them and hopefully will have taught to the groups behind them.”
The seniors have also been a part of heartbreak.
As freshmen, they watched as Avon lost to eventual state runner-up Muncie Central in the first round of semi-state. As sophomores, they were on the wrong end of a state finals matchup, losing the title to Penn.
But Avon was building toward its ultimate goal, using the lessons of years and players past to make the climb to the state’s proverbial pinnacle.
“It’s an interesting class that didn’t come into the program with the notoriety of some others, but their success level has been overwhelming,” McQueen said. “(They) continued building on the foundation that was built by earlier classes. Their work ethic and desire really showed through all four years in their determination to get where they wanted to be.
“It’s amazing to see the kids succeed, but it’s not surprising knowing their effort.”
That dedication and hard work, along with two seasons of disappointment, motivated the group of six seniors to the ultimate success in prep sports, with not just one but two state championships to show for their efforts.
When asked what meant the most, either the memories of their journey or the state titles, the seniors didn’t hesitate in their answers.
“I’ve been playing with this group of girls since the seventh grade,” Connors said. “I wouldn’t trade my time with them for anything.”
Griffin echoed Connors’ sentiments.
“The memories (mean the most) for sure,” Griffin said. “I just want to have another practice. I don’t even care that the season is over. I’m going to miss that feeling so much, there’s nothing greater than Avon volleyball.”
Strange said, “These girls are amazing. Every time we step onto the court we are just one big happy family, and I love them so much.”
After downing Carmel for the second year in a row, it would have been easy to reflect on the success that was fresh in their minds, but the group spoke of one another afterward, signifying it was more than just the win.
It was the journey they had shared that meant so much to each of them.
“It feels awesome. I just love it, my team, everything about it,” Thompson said.
While Griffin, Connors, Thompson and Strange played a large chunk of varsity minutes throughout the season and playoffs, McQueen expressed the importance of what Beeson and Carmichael brought to the squad in their tenures.
“Emma and Logan were essential to the success of this team,” McQueen said. “I’ve said often that Logan would set for 90 percent of the high schools in the state, but was instrumental in keeping both sides of the net competitive during practices. Emma is a kid that other athletes could look to and see what hard work could accomplish, as she came from a backup on the freshman team to a contributor on a two-time state champion.”
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports editor Jake Thompson on Twitter @JacobEThompson