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BLOOMINGTON — After routinely dispatching East Central in the first two sets Thursday night, the Columbus East volleyball team left little to chance in the third.
The Class 4A No. 10 Olympians were at the top of their game in finishing off the Trojans 25-18, 25-16, 25-4 in the opening round of the Bloomington North Sectional. The semifinals and finals will be Saturday.
“The third set, we were just feeling it,” East coach Faith Wilder-Newland said. “We kind of got on a roll.”
The Olympians (22-12) broke a 1-all tie in the third set, then senior Alexa Husmann-Miller served six points in a row to make it 8-1. East Central (21-12) cut the lead to 8-3, but Columbus East regained serve, and senior Faith Myers served 11 consecutive points for a 20-3 lead. Senior Carly Robertson served the final four points, the last coming on a kill by Bailey Western.
Although the Olympians controlled the first two sets, they didn’t come as easy. Columbus East jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the opening set before the Trojans rallied to tie it at 8-8. The Olympians jumped back in front 12-8 and cruised from there, with game-point coming on a kill from Katie Mack.
East Central led 3-1 in the second set before Columbus East regained serve, and Myers served seven straight points for a 9-3 lead. The margin stayed between three and six points until Courtney Williams served the final four points of the set, the last coming on a kill from Tayler Chandler.
“I think we came out aggressive, and we punched first,” Myers said. “We played very consistently throughout the whole match, and we were focused and energized. We had our scouting report, and we followed it pretty well, and I also think getting our middles (Western and Chandler) involved helped a bunch, especially at the beginning. The middles did awesome tonight.”
“Coming out with fire and intensity is what we need to do throughout the whole tournament, and maintaining our focus and intensity because that’s been a struggle all season for us,” Robertson said. “But we did well tonight.”
Western recorded 14 kills and four blocks, and Myers notched 37 assists and four aces to lead Columbus East. Husmann-Miller had 24 digs and two aces, while Robertson pounded 12 kills and Myers and Courtney Williams each added nine digs.
“I think we came out with a positive attitude,” Husmann-Miller said. “We jumped on them and listened to what the coaches had to say. There’s a lot of freshmen that play with us, and they haven’t got to see this experience yet, so I think we’re doing a good job of leading them on the path to victory.”
“I thought we played extremely well,” Wilder-Newland said. “We served well. We blocked well. We did almost everything pretty well. I thought we really did come in focused tonight.”
The Olympians will play host Bloomington North (11-20) in the semifinals around 12:45 p.m. Saturday. Columbus North (12-20) and Bloomington South (20-10) will play in the 11 a.m. opener. The championship match will be at 7 p.m.
“I think if we play focused like that, we have a good shot,” Wilder-Newland said.
“Our chances are very good,” Robertson said. “We’ve seen all the teams that are in our sectional so far, and we’ve beaten all the teams, but we can’t take anyone for granted.”
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