Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- Partying on a school night is rarely encouraged, but you'll have to forgive the Clay City volleyball team because they became regional champions on Tuesday night and most of the town will be celebrating with them.
Three days after winning the program's first sectional championship, the Eels added the first girls' regional title in school history as Clay City defeated a 36-2 Indiana School for the Deaf squad that had also won its first sectional championship on Saturday.
The Eels dominated game one before scrapping their way to wins in the final two games to capture a 25-13, 25-19, 26-24 win over the Orioles that propels Clay City into Saturday's Loogootee Semi-state.
"I know this is the first regional title on the girls' side and it feels awesome," Clay City coach Lu Anne Anderson said with a smile. "Who would have thought we would have walked in here tonight and won in three games, but you know what, they were three tough games. I give the Indiana Deaf School credit, they never gave up. They dug a lot of our balls, but my girls, especially our seniors, there was no way they were leaving their home floor with a loss."
Facing an opponent that was quite unfamiliar, Clay City didn't take anything for granted and came out guns blazing from the opening serve.
The Orioles clawed back into the set at 13-10 before Halli Brewer nailed a kill and Callie Dayhuff added an ace. The Eels were able to break open the game on kills by Brewer and Drelick to extend the gap to 22-12 on the way to the victory.
Game two was much closer with the Orioles remaining tight at 12-7 before a block by Asie Jeffers, who had four in the match. The Orioles responded with a kill from outside hitter Jasmine Jeter, who Anderson felt was one of the keys to the match.
"Callie (Dayhuff) dug their No. 9, outside hitter's balls that were going down the line. I don't know how many kills that girl (Jeter) had tonight, but I think she usually gets about 20 per night and I don't think she had that many tonight," Anderson said. "We were in the right spots and we moved our feet and hit the ball to target, which is our goal on every point."
Jeter got her squad within 18-16 in the second game before Emmie Kittle added a point for the Eels and one of Jeffers' six kills gave Clay City a 21-19 lead. The Eels went back to Drelick once more and her successful attack helped seal the victory.
"She's been our go to player every point this year," Anderson said of Drelick. "When we're in a tough jam we go to her and look for her leadership."
The final game was also a dogfight to the end despite Clay City opening a 13-7 gap midway through the set.
The Orioles senior libero, Kate Fetzer, served up two aces and Maucere stuffed a block and the match was close once more at 13-11.
However, the Eels weren't going to let the game get away from them as Drelick posted a pair of kills and an attack by the Orioles found the net to give Clay City the victory and a trip to Loogootee.
Emmie Kittle ran the Eels offense well and posted 28 assists in the victory as Dayhuff had 21 digs to lead the way. Meeghan Riggs was another big defensive cog as she added 12 digs and had three kills with Chloe Kittle adding two digs and Jeffers had four blocks along with Brewer.
The Eels will face the winner of the regional match between No. 6 Trinity Lutheran and Borden on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
"It was quite different for us. We gave them respect because we knew their record was big coming in and it was a neat thing," Anderson said. "I think it was a good thing for our girls. Now we have to get prepared to play some ranked teams in the state and it should be interesting."
Clay City Class A Regional
|Ind. School for the Deaf||13||19||24|
Next match: Clay City (19-10 overall) travel to the Loogootee Semi-state on Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. match.