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The Journal Gazette

Monday, October 01, 2018 1:00 am

Top 3A volleyball squads to meet in sectional opener

DAN VANCE | For The Journal Gazette

The high school volleyball regular season will come to a close in the next week, and Sunday's state tournament pairing draw set the stage for local teams' postseason hopes.

One of the most anticipated sectionals will be in Class 3A at Bishop Dwenger, where the host Saints (26-2), ranked second in Class 3A, will be joined by Leo (24-1) and Angola (22-4) on the top half of the six-team bracket. The Saints will face Angola in the opening match on Oct. 9, with the winner to face Leo on Oct. 11.

“As I tell my team, you have to beat the best teams if you want to win the big trophies, so we will get ours out of the way right away,” said Angola coach Lloy Ball.

Angola will play tonight to clinch an outright NECC title and undefeated conference season. Leo, ranked third in Class 3A by the Indiana High School Volleyball Coaches Association, suffered its only loss of the season to Bishop Dwenger on Aug. 21 and has 18 straight wins since.

The Saints and Hornets have matched up twice this season, both Bishop Dwenger wins.

“We've been a little better each time against them. I feel our team on paper has athletes to compete with them, we just have to get over the mental stigma of it being Bishop Dwenger,” Ball said.

Leo's Brooke Smith is the state's fourth-ranked player in kills with 415. Teammate Addie Sieber has set her up for most of those with the state's 10th best assist total of 741. In northeast Indiana, only Concordia senior Caroline Morrison has more assists with 802.

Elsewhere in Class 3A, Bellmont (18-9) will get a bye to face the winner of Bishop Luers and Marion at Norwell. Bellmont has won 13 straight sectional titles, 34 overall and boasts a win over Bishop Dwenger this fall.

Class 4A area teams have found a good deal of success themselves this season, headed by Carroll (21-4) and Concordia (24-6). In sectional play, both teams drew a bye at East Noble. Concordia defeated Carroll in their regular-season meeting 3-0, but Carroll has won nine straight sectional titles.

“Concordia is a tough team, they always are. The game has turned into a rivalry over the years, hopefully the sectional plays out where we have the opportunity to face them again,” Carroll coach Matt McCarter said.

“I think all teams got placed in areas to be successful and have the sectional play out in dramatic fashion.”

Blackhawk Christian will continue its season in Class 2A at Eastside without junior Ally Barkhaus, who tore her ACL two weeks ago in a loss at Concordia. She was averaging a team-high 3.7 kills per set.

The Braves (17-6) will play their first match Oct. 9 against South Adams. Blackhawk Christian has won their last seven sectional appearances.

IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox noted on the sectional draw broadcast Sunday night how volleyball has grown significantly statewide in recent years. McCarter, who has been at Carroll in some capacity for the past 15 seasons agreed.

“These girls put in a lot of time and effort outside of their high school seasons to help better themselves. I've been able to see this progression year to year and it's great for our sport and our area,” McCarter said.