Olympians roll to East Invitational title

Coming off a five-set loss to Class 4A No. 6 Roncalli on Thursday night, Columbus East coach Ellyn McIntosh was hoping to see her 4A No. 8 Olympians bounce back in a big way in Saturday’s East Invitational.

The Olympians were able to do that. They beat three opponents in straight sets, culminating with a 25-21, 25-7 victory against Avon in the title match.

“It was good to bounce back from Thursday,” McIntosh said. “I wanted to see what kind of energy these girls brought today and see where their heads were at after a tough five-set loss, but I think they played better as the day went, which is really good to see. To beat an Avon team 25-7, you can’t ask for much more out of them.”

East (24-4) began the day with a 25-23, 25-21 win against Plainfield. The Olympians swept Silver Creek 25-22, 25-10 in their other pool game to advance to the championship.

“We started off a little slow, but we picked it up as the games continued,” senior libero Cadence Gilley said. “We ended up playing really well the last game, so that’s exciting. We didn’t get the win Thursday, but it was a good game to get us ready for sectional, and so was this tournament.”

Gabby Dean recorded 22 kills and seven blocks, and Cadence Gilley had 25 digs and four aces to lead the Olympians. Saige Stahl also pounded 22 kills, and Katy Jordan dished out 61 assists.

Also for East, Reece Whitehead notched 14 kills, 16 digs and one ace; and Libby Dippold added eight kills and four blocks. Stahl, Caroline Frost and Maddie Cline all had two blocks; Jordan tallied 13 digs and one ace; Chloe Gilley and Kenzie Foster each contributed 11 digs and Dean and Jordan each served one ace.

The Olympians, who won their invitational for the third consecutive year, now turn their attention toward this week’s Martinsville Sectional. They will face Bloomington South in the first round on Thursday.

“It was just awesome to compete against good teams and pull out a win,” Stahl said. “It’s a great opportunity, especially for us to get ready for sectional. I feel like we’re doing really well as a team. I think we are bonding really well on the court and off the court.”