BROWNSBURG — Thirteen. That’s how many consecutive sectional titles the Avon girls’ volleyball team has collected since 2001. Lifehouse’s “Hanging by a Moment” was Billboard Music’s Top 100 Song of the Year, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was released and the aftermath of 9/11 was fresh on everyone’s mind when this run began.
Fast forward to Saturday night and Avon’s seniors, who were near four-and five years old in 2001, continued the tradition laid out by so many girls before them.
“It’s just as fun every time,” Avon senior setter Rachel Griffin said. “Not to take away from any other year because it’s awesome, but I’m just so excited for what we can do.”
Griffin led Avon with 39 assists and was the catalyst for the Orioles’ frontline play that overpowered Brownsburg in three sets, 25-19, 25-14, and 25-19.
Avon’s win amounts to the third in a seven-step process to return to the 4A finals and defend its state title.
“Winning just makes it more stressful, to be honest,” Avon coach Scott McQueen said. “We have big expectations and you have to do well at the beginning of the postseason to do well at the end.”
No. 2-ranked Avon downed No. 18 Martinsville Thursday and then bested Terre Haute North Saturday morning to reach the finals. Brownsburg played the early game, defeating Terre Haute South to advance into the finals.
When the two county and conference rivals met in the finals, Avon dictated the tempo and forced Brownsburg out of its game plan.
“It just wasn’t what we had practiced or planned,” Brownsburg coach Bob Yeager said. “We didn’t execute and the kids feel awful about it. I feel awful for them, for Brownsburg.”
Beth Prince (5) and Calle Weddle (3) led Avon’s attack in the first set, combining for eight kills. Prince would finish with 14 kills on the night and Weddle recorded 10. Shelby Connors, Lindsay Thompson, and Rebekah Strange also provided a lift with timely outside and middle hitting throughout the match.
Avon jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the second set and if not for five service errors, would have led 16-2 at one point.
Brownsburg kept it close early in the third before Avon extended its lead to 20-10. Griffin ended the contest, dumping the ball on match point. It was a move Griffin said she does not enjoy doing in a situation like that, but felt it was necessary as the Bulldogs were closing the margin.
Brownsburg loses seniors Nicole Weisman, Rachel Tharp, Carissa Damler, Hannah Midkiff, and McKenzie Mason.
“They are just shy of 100 wins in four years of playing,” Yeager said. “They are great leaders in the classroom, community and everything else. They will be special still as adults.”
Avon now travels to Perry Meridian with a regional title on the line at 7 p.m. Tuesday night. Avon has beaten Perry Meridian twice this season, each time 2-0.
Griffin said the Falcons have the Orioles’ full attention.
“During the postseason, we only focus on the game ahead and each point gains a bit more attention,” she said.
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