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Olympians fend off Highlanders for title

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FLOYDS KNOBS — After losing big leads in both games of the Hoosier Hills Conference championship match against Floyd Central Saturday afternoon, Columbus East needed to find a way to stop the Highlanders’ momentum.

The Class 4A No. 3 Olympians came through both times. They pulled out a 26-24, 25-22 victory to avenge last year’s first-round loss to Floyd Central and regain the HHC title.

“Our setter (Faith Myers) and some of our other seniors stepped it up and said ‘No. They’re not going to come back. We’re going to just finish this,’” senior middle hitter Sara Bean said.

East (22-2) led 18-10 in Game 1 but the Highlanders rallied to tie it at 22 and again at 24. But then Myers pushed a ball deep into Floyd’s court for a kill, and Carly Robertson angled in a kill from the side to end the game.

The Olympians jumped out to a 9-3 lead in Game 2 before the Highlanders came back to tie it at 22. Micayla Speidel and Erin Mack pounded back-to-back kills, and Floyd committed a ball-handling error to finish the match.

“Anytime you’re playing for something like the sectional championship or conference championship, teams aren’t just going to roll over and die,” East coach Faith Wilder-Newland said. “They’re going to come back on you, and we had to stop their momentum and stop what they wanted to do, and I thought we did that.”

The Olympians began the day with a 25-6, 25-23 win over Bedford North Lawrence. East beat Jennings County 25-15, 25-17 in the semifinals.

“Except for the second game against BNL, for the most part, we played pretty solid,” Wilder-Newland said.

“Senior night, winning against Bloomington South and Thursday, winning against our rival, Columbus North, definitely led into it on a positive note, and I think we just came out ready to play this morning, and we carried it throughout the day,” Bean said. “We wanted it bad because we lost last year. We wanted to beat Floyd bad.”

Bean led the Olympians with four blocks and 28 digs in the three matches and added 23 kills. Speidel pounded 24 kills, Myers recorded 70 assists and Robertson had 13 kills and five aces. Erin Mack added 12 kills and four aces, and Alexa Husmann-Miller had 19 digs.

“We played awesome today,” Bean said. “We played as a team. It wasn’t just one or two of us that played well. All of us played together, and all of us contributed throughout the day.”

Seymour downed Jennings County 25-15, 25-17 in the third-place match. The Owls (23-5) had earlier downed Madison 25-21, 25-11 and lost to Floyd Central 25-16, 25-19.

Seymour’s Hayden Dailey pounded 23 kills, Jessica Lucas had 63 assists, Taylor Sutton added 26 digs and Chandler Clark served seven aces.

“I thought the whole day, we played very poorly,” Seymour coach Angie Lucas said. “We came off a great Brownstown win on Tuesday and then to come out as flat as we did today was very disappointing.”

Jennings (16-13) beat Jeffersonville 25-15, 25-16 before falling to East and Seymour. Emily Ertel pounded 20 kills, Lucy Hearne recorded 39 assists, Mariah Kinney had four blocks, Dani Kirchner added 33 digs and Monica Barringer served seven aces.

The Panthers played without one of their two senior setters, Megan Kelsay, who was injured in practice on Friday.

“That’s the first time we’ve run a 5-1, so they adjusted very, very well,” Jennings coach Susan Kinney said. “That’s probably some of the best volleyball that we’ve played. I had everybody in positions where they needed to be.”

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