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For the Columbus East volleyball team to make the Class 4A final four without dropping a set was pretty amazing to say the least.
But in order to get any further, the No. 10 Olympians had to get past No. 2 Avon, the defending state champions.
After a nail-biting first set won by the Orioles, East couldn’t bounce back, and Avon breezed through the next two sets to win the Seymour semistate championship 25-22, 25-17, 25-13.
Olympians coach Faith Wilder-Newland said the defense of the Orioles was causing much turmoil for East.
“We knew we had to force errors,” Wilder-Newland said. “We tried to keep it away from their best defenders, but they had so many weapons, and that was hard to face.”
The Olympians (26-13) had brilliant serves early in the contest, led by seniors Carly Robertson and Alexa Husmann-Miller, who each recorded an ace, but couldn’t capitalize on the hard hitting of Avon (36-3) and were put in a stand-still.
The second and third sets were completely controlled by the Orioles, who scored in big rallies and kept any opportunities East might have had distant.
Wilder-Newland said the team has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and praised the senior leadership.
“The seniors are such special people,” Wilder-Newland said. “They were hard-working; they were coachable and were great teachers to the rest of the team.”
The seniors weren’t strangers to the final four before this match, as the quartet of Husmann-Miller, Robertson, Erin Mack and Faith Myers had been in this position in 2010.
“We’ve played together since we were little,” Husmann-Miller said. “To be in the final four twice is really awesome, and it showed just how far hard work can go. Going to the final four is icing on the cake. It isn’t great losing, but I’m really glad all of us stuck together in the end.”
Robertson said that even though the team had its adversities early on, teammates stayed positive and focused.
“We had some key injuries early this season, and people doubted us,” Robertson said. “To fight through that and make it as far as we had is such a great accomplishment.”
Wilder-Newland said the physical and mental focus the seniors had was one of the keys to getting to this point.
“There were only three teams in the state that went to the semistate three out of the past four years, and we were one of them,” Wilder-Newland said. “To be a part of something as big as that is pretty amazing.”
Myers, who led the squad with 23 assists against Avon, as well as 31 assists and two aces in the win against Indianapolis Bishop Chatard in Saturday morning’s semistate semifinals, said the younger group will be exciting to watch in the years to come.
“Being a leader of this team was a great honor,” Myers said. “To have the younger group come in and fill our shoes is going to make for an exciting few years.”
“I’m real excited to see the younger girls step up,” Wilder-Newland said. “They proved this year that they have the mental and physical drive to take this team far.”
Mack, who had to sit out most of the season because of an ACL injury, said she couldn’t be more proud of the progress the team had made.
“It meant a lot to me to be a part of the team and watch the team do so well,” Mack said. “I wish I could’ve been a part of it more, but to see the team progress the way they did made me so proud.”
In the semifinal match, the Olympians made quick work of Chatard (23-14), putting the Trojans away 27-25, 25-21, 25-20. Robertson notched nine kills, while Husmann-Miller added 15 digs. Myers and Ashlyn Robbins provided much spark in the serving game, each scoring nine points.
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