Times Sports Editor
Sectional play gets underway for volleyball teams around the state this evening, including both Northview and Clay City's squads.
Both county teams have had excellent regular seasons and begin their quest for sectional hardware. The Knights' last sectional title came in 1996, which was their fifth in school history. The drought is much longer for the Eels, who last won the title back in 1978.
However, this is a brand new year and both the Martinsville Sectional and the Shakamak Sectional seem to be pretty wide open this year.
The Knights will play in this evening's second game and take on Plainfield, a team that they lost a five-game thriller to on Oct. 15. However, Northview coach Scott McDonald was confident after the loss to the Quakers that his team would be a more formidable opponent come the postseason.
"We've done a lot of serve receive stuff to get ready. (Plainfield) had one server that really hurt us. She had a really good float serve," McDonald said. "We've spent the last four practices since we played them getting ready for that and made some adjustments mechanically and we've worked on hitting float (serves) ourselves. If we can't hit it then nobody else can either," quipped McDonald.
The evening's first game, slated for 6 p.m. will feature two of the most successful programs in sectional history. Terre Haute South and Martinsville face each other and the pair have combined to win 33 total sectionals and have claimed all but one since 2001. The Braves are two-time defending champs and have designs at adding a third in a row. However, McDonald feels that this is a very balanced sectional and the regular season results bear that out.
"You look at the sectional and of course we don't play Martinsville, but we beat Mooresville, we beat (Terre Haute) South in a great game, (Terre Haute) North beats us in five (games) and then North turns around and beats South," McDonald said. "It can be anybody's sectional, but the kids feel really good about the work we've put in the last few days getting ready. I'll tell you, this is excited a group as I've seen, even baseball-wise in the last eight or 10 years. So we're feeling good going into the tournament."
McDonald has a talented and experienced lineup, which should go a long way towards preparing his team for the sectional struggle.
"Experience-wise, Brittaney (Long) and Alyssa (Clarke) and Ali (Sharton) have been through this before. The rest of them it's kind of a new thing. Sam (Solomon) has been