October 30, 2013Going into their opening match of the Floyd Central volleyball sectional, both the host Lady Highlanders and Seymour Lady Owls had already come out on the winning end against each other. Seymour earned a five-game win during the regular season, but Floyd Central topped the Lady Owls in the Hoosier Hills Conference tournament. The rubber match, however, had a lot more on the line.
By the time it was over, players, coaches and fans were all gasping for breath with the Lady Highlanders coming out the victor in the five-game slug-fest.
Floyd Central sophomore Gwyn Jones (35) rips a kill by Seymour's Megan Kimbley in game one of the Lady Highlanders' five-game win in the Floyd Central Sectional. Photo by Wade Bell
"I'm exhausted, emotionally," Floyd Central coach Bart Powell said. "It was very emotional. I thought we were in complete control when they (Seymour) laid down in game three, and then we turned around and laid down in game four."
Both teams came out swinging for supremacy, and the Lady Owls worked to find some breathing space in the first game, gaining a 12-7 advantage. Floyd Central rallied to tie the game at 15 when Remi Bowman tipped into an open Seymour hole. Floyd Central later gained a brief lead, but Seymour senior Hayden Dailey pounded in three straight kills to put Seymour in front 21-19. That was the momentum the Lady Owls needed as they held on to win 25-22.
"There was a lot of nerves there," Powell said. "We knew Seymour was coming in to rock us. We're starting three sophomores, and it seems like I keep saying that every year, but we're starting three sophomores, and one of them was very nervous."
The Lady Highlanders regrouped and found a better rhythm in game two, going on to a 20-15 lead and then getting a 25-20 win.
The two teams traded the lead to begin game three, but then Floyd Central gained a 14-9 advantage after back-to-back kills by Sydney Engle. Floyd Central later got three straight kills by Engle, Lauren Koopman and Bowman for an 18-12 lead. The Lady Highlanders dominated rest of the game to win 25-16.
Game four would be much different, however. Floyd Central got the initial lead, but Seymour found a foothold and quickly raced to a 12-6 advantage. With the Lady Highlanders falling out of their rhythm, the Lady Owls pounded their way to a 17-9 lead, forcing Floyd Central to call a second time-out. That did no good, however, as the Lady Owls went on for a 25-14 win.
Floyd Central won the tip for game five, but Powelll chose to receive serve to keep any nerve problems in check for his younger players.
"I chose to receive in game five because one of my sophomores was going to go back there and serve, and she's very edgy," Powell said. "I'm glad it worked."
Chandler Clark delivered a Seymour ace on the first serve, but Floyd Central sophomore Mikaila Humphrey killed in response and Brooke Hinton aced on the Lady Highlanders' first serve to put her team in front. Floyd Central hit out of bounds on the next play, but Seymour erred twice. The Lady Owls later went out in front by one, 6-5, after a kill by Dailey. Tierney Flaherty and Koopman then got back-to-back kills, pushing Floyd Central to a one-point edge again, 7-6.
The two teams tied at 7 and 8, then Seymour missed a serve to put Floyd Central in front for good. Gwyn Jones killed on the next side-out for a 10-8 lead. Seymour closed to within one three times. Bowman then delivered a tip for a point and service ace to put Floyd Central in front 14-11. Seymour erred on the next side-out with four hits, giving the Lady Highlanders a 15-11 win.
The match turned out to be the final one for Seymour coach Angie Lucas, who is leaving the program.
"If there was any other person I didn't want to end it for them, it would be her," Powell said. "She's an outstanding coach. She's got close to 600 wins and has coached for 25 to 30 years. She's done an outstanding job with that program."
Flaherty led Floyd Central with 15 kills, and Engle followed with 10 kills. Jones was one behind with nine kills, and Bowman had seven. The Lady Highlanders missed seven serves, delivered eight aces and had 25 errors.
"Jonesy played well in game two and game three," Powell said. "Lauren Koopman, she's been hurt. She didn't play all weekend in Carmel. Right-side attack is a tough place to hit, and she hit some balls tonight that the best hit. It's a really tough swing."
Seymour's Dailey had the big swing for the night, getting 24 kills and four service aces. Clark had 15 kills, and Kimbley had 10 kills. Seymour had seven service aces, but misfired on serve 14 times. The Lady Owls had 26 errors.
"She's very smart," Powell said of Dailey. "She actually plays club ball with Koopman and Bowman. They play at a very high level of club ball, and Hayden's just got shots. She'll hit the ball on the way down on you and hit the ball on the way up on you. She's a great player. She's going to go play someplace in college. I'm sure of that."
"All in all, in game five they fought," the Floyd Central coach said. "All of us just dug in and didn't want to lose."
The Lady Highlanders went on to win the sectional on Saturday. Floyd Central pounded county rival New Albany in the semi-final that morning with a 25-18, 25-17, 25-15 sweep. The Lady Highlanders swept Jennings County in the championship, winning 25-14, 25-10, 25-17.