Times Sports Editor
White River Valley High School plays host to Class A Sectional 61 beginning tonight with a 7 p.m. contest between Shakamak and Clay City.
If the regular season battle is any indicator, the admission price tonight will be well worth it as the Eels and Lakers went toe-to-toe in a five-game thriller. Clay City came out on top in a 25-21, 22-25, 25-18, 18-25, 20-18 thriller, which Eels' coach Lu Anne Anderson said should help Clay City's poise in the postseason re-match.
"It gives us some confidence, but I'm not going to say that it gives us a bunch," Anderson said of a regular season win over the Lakers. "Shakamak is the three-time defending sectional champion and anytime you come up against an opponent like that, it's going to be a battle."
Clay City knows all about how Shakamak can battle as the Lakers ousted the Eels in the title game last year in a four-game tilt.
"(Shakamak) always seems to have a tremendous game when they play Clay City and it took us five games to beat them the first time," Anderson said. "We're not expecting an easy game by any means, if we're going to win it, we're going to have to earn it."
There weren't many easy points in the regular season match-up as Clay City had just nine service aces out of their 110 total points.
However, the Eels got an 18-kill effort from senior Lynsey Higgins and 10 from Shelby Hane. Brielle Drelick provided another eight and Callie Dayhuff compiled seven kills in the victory. Higgins and Hane combined for 15 blocks in the win and Dayhuff had 11 digs and eight points. Olivia Schindler provided 40 assists in the match, LaKyla Cook had nine points and Chloe Kittle had eight.
Schindler has piled up a team-high 479 assists and 168 service points to go with 84 digs this season and Callie Dayhuff has served up 190 points and has 310 digs to lead the team. Shaya Stevenson has 190 assists, 61 points and 67 digs and Brielle Drelick has piled up 137 kills, third on the team behind Higgins and Hane.
Playing a five-game marathon is typically a pressure packed situation so having played several during the regular season could help the Eels in the postseason according to Anderson.
"We've played, I think, three or four, five-game matches and we've been able to come out on top in all but one of them," Anderson said. "I think that has helped us out a little bit mentally and conditioning comes into play. It's nothing that we haven't done before so I think it's good that we've played a couple of five-gamers coming in so we know what that is like. You never know what is going to happen come sectional time."
Unlike some other teams in the WRV Sectional, the Eels haven't had a game in quite awhile due to some schedule changes, but Anderson wasn't too worried about the Eels losing any focus after the lay-off.
"We were supposed to have a game last weekend at Linton, but it got moved up because of the Western Indiana Conference playing at Lucas Oil Field, which was great, but we've had seven days off. I'm happy we didn't draw the bye because we would have had nine days off," Anderson joked. "This has been good because we've been able to break certain things down in practice and work on where we want to hit the ball and work on different things individually each day."
With extra time to prepare for sectional play, the Eels have had time to polish their game heading into the postseason. However, Anderson believes that her team will have to play with confidence and concentration in their pursuit of a sectional title.
"We have to cut down on our mental, unforced errors," Anderson said of a key to a sectional title run. "We have to serve well and pass well, when we do that, we play pretty well. If those aren't working our way, we'll have to work some magic."
The Eels and Lakers play in the only game this evening at 7 p.m. Saturday is the semifinal as North Central (Farmersburg) faces Union (Dugger) at 11 a.m. before WRV takes on the winner between the Lakers and Eels. The title game will follow at 7 p.m.