Times Staff Reporter
JASONVILLE -- Clay City's volleyball team advanced to the championship game of the Shakamak sectional with a four-game victory over a resilient WRV team Saturday morning.
Advancement didn't come easy for the Eels.
White River Valley went up by as many as seven, following a 9-2 run. Clay City looked sloppy with poor passing and missed open shots, and was never able to establish momentum. They eventually dropped game one 25-19.
While a rough middle did Clay City in in game one, it was an inability to finish that nearly sank them in game two.
The Wolverines looked flustered as Clay City rode solid service from Lakyla Cook and aces from Brielle Drelick, Shelby Hane and Lynsey Higgins to a seemingly insurmountable 10-1 lead.
The Eels were unable to continue the momentum throughout, however, as WRV chipped away at the lead for the rest of the game, until they had come all the way back to tie the game at 23. Luckily for the Eels, they were finally able to put the hammer down, and when Callie Dayhuff forced an errant WRV return, the Eels evened things at one game apiece.
Coach Cindy Gerber said nerves and perhaps a slight abundance of swagger were responsible for her team's early struggles.
"I think we were a little nervous, but we may have also been a bit over-confident" Gerber said. The Eels cruised to a fairly decisive four-game decision over WRV in the regular season. "It's easy to overlook teams you know you should beat," Gerber added.
The Eels were finally able to put together a complete effort in game three. Clay City went on an 8-1 run to open up a 13-6 lead enroute to an impressive 25-14 win. Drelick sparked much of the rally with four kills.
Game four started fast for Clay City and was aided by a bit of good fortune. The Eels got a 3-0 lead early via a Drelick kill, a Kelly McCullough ace and a Lynsey Higgins kill, and Clay City would lead by as many as five. WRV rallied to get the game to 23-20 when good fortune smiled on Shelby Hane. Her return of a WRV shot landed promptly on the net and inched its way to the Wolverine side of the floor pushing the lead to four. After two WRV points, an errant serve proved to be the difference maker, and the Eels were moving on to the evening's sectional final.
McCullough had 30 assists in the win to go with eight kills, six blocks and six points. Higgins added 11 digs, seven points and 17 kills with Hane tallying nine digs, five points and five kills. Cook posted nine digs, 12 points and four kills to go with Drelick's 11 kills and seven digs, three points and an ace from Dayhuff. Olivia Schindler posted 15 assists, two digs and two points.
Coach Gerber said the Saturday morning contest was an accurate representation of her team's season.
"We always play with a lot of resilience," Gerber said. "We always seem to have stretches where we struggle, but we are usually able to come through."
Next match: Clay City advanced to the championship game at 7 p.m. against Shakamak.
JASONVILLE -- In the championship game between the Eels and Shakamak on Saturday night, Clay City was unable to duplicate the regular season victory that they posted, falling in a four-game battle, 22-25, 25-12, 15-25, 19-25.
"I think that we battled really hard and had a hard way to go," coach Cindy Gerber said. "We had three hard games, and the girls really wanted it and played really hard. I think some of it was nerves, sometimes you want it so bad that you just can't. They knew what they wanted to do and the nerves took over."
The Eels lone senior, Kelly McCullough had 24 assists, eight kills, six blocks and two points. Lynsey Higgins had six digs, 16 kills and three blocks with Shelby Hane adding three points and six kills. Lakyla Cook had nine points, seven digs, two kills and a block and Brielle Drelick posted 11 kills with two digs. Callie Dayhuff had seven digs, three points and a kill and Olivia Schindler added 15 assists, two digs, two points and an ace.
The Eels final record is 20-10 this season. Shakamak advances to the South Decatur Regional on Saturday where the Lakers face Edinburgh at 11 a.m.
At Shakamak Sectional