The Terre Haute South Braves are getting healthy at completely the wrong time for the Northview Knights in high school volleyball.
South, who was missing 6'5 Kristen Seaton and 6'+ Madison Hayne in an earlier season matchup, returned both near the end of the regular season and each of them played a role in the Braves' 25-21, 25-22, 25-19 sectional victory over Northview on Saturday afternoon.
While the Knights battled the sizable Braves toe-to-toe in the rematch, Northview simply wasn't quite able to get over the hump in the semifinal loss.
South got the jump in the first set leading 8-5 early on before the Knights rallied to tie the score at 11-all. The Braves would run off three straight points on a block by Hayne and a kill by Lauren Gottardi that extended the lead to 15-12.
The lead would eventually grow to 20-15 before Laura McCrea found the hardwood with a tip and Christy Fulk stuffed a South kill attempt. South put another shot into the net and the Knights closed to 21-18. However, Joy Trendelman sent home two kills to put the Braves on the brink of a first set win.
Fulk would prolong the set with a block and a tip for a point but Seaton blocked a Northview shot to give the Braves a one set lead.
In the second set, the Knights trailed 10-8 nearly midway through the set before McCrea strung together a kill at the net and then blocked a second shot to tie the score briefly. The Braves would squeeze out to another two point lead after a Gottardi kill. Despite a Northview point from a Fulk kill and a block by Lottie King, the Braves remained on top 17-14 before Brianne Arvin got on the offensive with a kill and King blocked another shot.
Trailing 19-17, Fulk emphatically blocked a Terre Haute South shot at the net and the Knights were within two once more at 21-19. However, two Northview kill attempts would be sent wide and South would finish the set with a tip that found space at the back of the court for a 25-22 win.
The Knights came alive on defense in the third set.
After falling behind 14-11 midway through the set, 5'4 setter, Lindsay Thomas, blocked a South shot that sent a wave of energy through the Northview bench and stands. King then followed suit with blocks at all three front row positions to tie the score at 14-all.
An ace by Seaton would put the Braves back on top and leading 17-16, an ace by Jackie Jacso and a second point put the Braves ahead 19-17.
Terre Haute South wouldn't relinquish that lead as two missed kill attempts by Northview put the Braves in control and back-to-back kills by Seaton and Jacso finished off Northview's season.
Despite the loss, Northview coach Laura Rahn was upbeat about the year and the future for the Knights.
"I think we played a little young tonight," Rahn commented. "But we still played right with them. We weren't intimidated. It's encouraging to see."
A 20 win season and a lineup that includes just two seniors points to a bright future for Northview. "We're definitely going to miss our seniors next year, but it's encouraging that we're so young right now," Rahn noted. "I think we measure really well with the teams (in the sectional). I'm expecting some big things next year."
The Knights finish their year at 20-7 overall.
Lindsay Thomas had 16 assists and four digs while Casey Challandes led the team in service points with eight, including four aces. Kellsy Maurer added six points while Brittney Spugnardi had five and Kaley Huffman four.
Christy Fulk topped the team in kills with six with Laura McCrea adding four and Brianne Arvin three.
In the championship match the Braves ran into a very tough Plainfield squad that defeated them in four sets, 23-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-14.
Jessica Wolfe had 18 kills for Plainfield and Cara Gilliam added 24 assists.
Northview placed four players on the All-Conference team this season with all of them returning next year. Freshmen Lindsay Thomas and Lottie King along with juniors Christy Fulk and Brittney Spugnardi.