Olympians sweep Golden Bears

Since losing 6-foot-4 middle hitter Gabby Dean to a shoulder injury a week ago, it had been a little bit of a struggle for the Columbus East volleyball team.

The Olympians were leading Jennings County when Dean, an Illinois recruit, went out, but ended up falling in five sets. Then, East went 1-3 in Saturday’s Providence Invitational.

But on Monday evening, all was well in The Orange Pit. The Olympians rolled in the first two sets and held on in the third for a 25-9, 25-11, 25-19 victory against Shelbyville.

“It was really nice to see a win, especially after a couple losses last week,” senior setter Erin Williams said. “I think we really pulled together as a team and are starting to have fun with each other. Even though we don’t have Gabby, we’re still working real hard, and we’re having fun as a team. It’s been a little bit of a challenge, but I think if you’re a good setter, you can adjust to anyone, and you can really connect with your hitters if you’re trying to. It’s been kind of a learning process, but it’s fun, though.”

East (7-6) stretched a 6-4 first-set lead to 13-4 with Jenna Guse at the service line. The Olympians led 14-7 when they scored 10 in a row, the final nine with Kenzie Foster serving.

Kenzie Foster

Foster then served East to an 8-0 lead in the second set.

The Golden Bears led 11-9 in the third set before the Olympians got a sideout and 11 consecutive points from Foster.

“With a big lead, I really try to work on serving aggressively,” Foster said. “I work on trying to get them in, but also try to serve them off the court, as well.”

Maddie Cline pounded 13 kills, Williams recorded 31 assists, Caroline Frost had six solo and two assist blocks, Chloe Gilley notched 11 digs and Foster served three aces to lead East.

Also for the Olympians, Frost tallied 11 kills, Jenna Guse added five kills and Williams had two solo and two assist blocks, eight digs and two aces. Addison Emery contributed 10 digs, and Foster added nine digs.

“I think without Gabby and Kimberly (Carothers), two of our best hitters, we’ve really tried to work on just having fun and playing together, so I think that carried over into us playing really well,” Foster said. “I think whenever we play together is when we have a lot of success.”

“It’s nice to get a win like this, and we had some people playing some different positions due to injuries, so it was good to boost the morale after a tough weekend,” East coach Ellyn McInotsh added. “They surprised me a little bit this weekend, coming out and getting a win right off the bat against Bloomington South with that strange, new lineup. But they’re resilient. They’re bouncing back to whatever I throw at them, but it’s been interesting to say the least to try and figure out where to put all our girls to be successful.”

McIntosh said there is a chance Dean could be back in the lineup on Thursday when East hosts Class 3A No. 2 Providence.

“She actually told me she was going to warm up tonight, and I told her, ‘No,’ to continue to rest it tonight,” McIntosh said. “Hopefully by Thursday, she’ll be good to go. She’s going to warm up, and then we’ll see how it feels in warmups, and if it feels well enough, then we’ll see how the game goes.”