It was a slow start but a powerful finish for Columbus East Tuesday night.
With senior hitters Sara Bean and Micayla Speidel pounding away, the Class 4A No. 3 Olympians ended their regional match with a nine-point flurry to cap off a 25-19, 25-20, 25-13 victory against Center Grove.
“We started off a little shaky,” Bean said. “I don’t think we played as well as we did on Saturday against Shelbyville (in the sectional finals). But as the match went on, we brought the intensity to a higher level, and we finished strong tonight.”
East (31-4) advances to Saturday’s Seymour Semistate, where it will play No. 4 Avon in the semifinals around 12:30 p.m. No. 9 Seymour and No. 10 Cathedral will meet in the first semifinal at 11 a.m., and the championship match will be at 7 p.m.
The Olympians were clinging to a 16-13 lead in Game 3 when they took complete control. Speidel came up with a kill and a tip kill, followed by a Bean ace to make it 19-13.
Two more kills by Speidel were followed by a combined block from Speidel and Tayler Chandler. Speidel then pounded two more kills before Bean finished it with an ace.
“We hit really smart,” Speidel said. “They’re taller and have a taller blocking team, so we hit smart and played some good defense. All around, I thought we played really well, and it all came together for us.”
The Trojans (17-14) led 5-4 in Game 1 before Speidel had back-to-back kills to give East the lead, and Erin Mack followed with two more kills. Game point came on a Center Grove hitting error.
The Trojans jumped out to a 7-4 lead in Game 2 and still led 11-10 before the Olympians took control on three consecutive kills by Bean. Game point came on a Mack kill.
Center Grove led 7-6 in Game 3 and was within 16-13 when East made its closing run.
“I thought we were a little bit off at the beginning,” East coach Faith Wilder-Newland said. “It was kind of a slower pace than what we’re used to playing, but once we got going, I thought the energy level was a lot better.”
Center Grove coach Dana Daprile said, “I felt like we just couldn’t get it going. I felt like Columbus East came to play tonight, and we didn’t. I felt like they handled the pressure, and I don’t think we ever really played our game. It’s disappointing to end the season knowing you didn’t leave it all out there on the floor.”
Bean led the Olympians with 12 kills and three aces. Speidel added 11 kills, and Mack had 10 kills. Faith Myers recorded 44 assists and 10 digs. Chandler had four blocks, and Courtney Ping tallied 15 digs.
“We were super pumped up, coming in from last year and not winning sectional and being able to play this game,” Speidel said. “We knew what we had to do to get it, and we really are looking forward to going to semistate.”
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