Times Sports Editor
The Northview volleyball team has enjoyed the spoils of the program's first volleyball sectional championship in 14 years this week as it prepares for regional play on Saturday afternoon.
The Knights (28-9 overall) captured the sectional crown amidst a great deal of jubilation and drama following a pair of two-games-to-none comebacks against Terre Haute South and Terre Haute North last weekend. So understandably the team has been on cloud nine this week.
"It's been tough to get them back down to Earth and ready for this weekend," coach Scott McDonald said during practice on Thursday. McDonald was sporting a brand new head of blonde hair following a pre-season bet with his team that he'd dye his hair if they won the sectional. So even the coach wasn't immune from the celebration of the title, but said that his team has gotten down to business the last couple of days in preparing for Floyd Central in the 11 a.m. Seymour Regional opener.
"The dramatics that were involved and winning that sectional, we're just trying to come off that high that we had. But yesterday we had a good practice and (Thursday) we're going to go through a few things. I've got lots of information on Floyd Central so we'll be ready," McDonald said. He also added that his team has enjoyed the extra attention that comes with a title.
Preparation is fully underway for Floyd Central and a program that is no stranger to postseason success and is coming off its third-straight sectional crown and back-to-back trips to the final four in Class 4A.
In 2008 Floyd Central defeated Terre Haute South in four games and captured the regional title with a three-game victory over Columbus East before falling to state runner-up Muncie Central.
The Highlanders are an experienced team like the Knights, with seven seniors that are used to the rigors of postseason play.
"They've got two real big hitters and a 6'0 setter, they are 33-3 and I voted them No. 1 in the last poll that I did, but the people I've talked to about them, if we can stop their big middle, we've got a shot," McDonald said. "Everything kind of runs through (their middle). Brylie (Riddell) is going to match up on her and I expect (Brylie) to win. I expect us to win, to go down there and with the environment that we've dealt with in the sectional and going five games like that, there shouldn't be any nerves."
Senior Laura Der averages 3.41 kills per game for Floyd Central and junior Jennifer Smith is averaging 2.79 per game with Melanie Stutsman passing out nine assists per game and hitting at a 47 percent efficiency rate.
After gaining some insight from other coaches that are familiar with Floyd Central, McDonald has made some adjustments to his team this week to counter the Highlanders options.
"We've got a few things we're doing different on offense and our defense is going to be a little bit different to get ready for them," McDonald said. "They are a big team, they've got three girls 5'11 or bigger and the middle is 6'1. The key for us is going to be our defense. If we can serve receive and play defense we're going to win."
While the Knights don't have the postseason credentials of Saturday's early opponent, McDonald said his team isn't just happy to be in the regional, but have more left to accomplish.
"I think we had some of that early in the week," McDonald said referring to a possible sense of his team feeling satisfied with winning the sectional. "They were kind of slap happy, you know, we've done something we haven't done in 14 years, so we talked about what kind of opportunity this is for them personally and for our program. Yeah we've got seven seniors, but we have girls who will be back next year that liked the taste of that sectional. At this level and at this point in the tournament, anything can happen. Volleyball is a weird game, you can have an off day passing and we can have a great day, it's the old adage that you just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings."