DECATUR – Through the first 10 volleyball matches of the season, Bellmont had just three wins. At the first Saturday tournament of the season in Yorktown, Bellmont went 0-4.
After Bellmont's first loss to Concordia, Cadets coach Tricia Miller pointed out that Bellmont was a feisty team that never ever quit, even when it went down against a team with arguably more talent.
But since then, Bellmont has gone from being the team that put up a fight in a tough loss to the team that pulls out the win, winning 22 of 25 matches. It took five sets in both the regional semifinal and final and a four-set win over Plymouth at semistate, but Bellmont is now headed to the Class 3A state finals Saturday at Ball State's Worthen Arena in Muncie for a meeting with Brownstown Central (32-5).
“I mean it's crazy. No one thought we were going to be here. Even we didn't think we were going to be here, but here we are,” senior libero Rachel McBride said. “So we're just enjoying it and we're going to keep working hard.”
Bellmont lost to Brownstown Central 2-0 at the Carmel Invitational in mid-October.
“It was first thing in the morning, and we didn't play that well,” Bellmont coach Craig Krull said. “I've seen them play, and we're going to work on what they have a tendency to do. If we do what we're supposed to do, we'll be fine. And hopefully we can put a few wrinkles in to give us that advantage to stop Brownstown from what they're comfortable doing. Because it's a well-known fact, if you take boys, girls, athletes, and take them out of their comfort zone, then they struggle a little bit.”
Bellmont has already come out ahead in a rematch during the playoffs, beating Delta in sectionals after losing to the Eagles at the Yorktown tournament.
“I think the senior leadership,” Emily Sheumann said when asked how Bellmont turned around the season. “The group of five of us, we tried to step up; ... especially with it being rough at the beginning, that wasn't how we wanted our senior season to go, so we thought that there needed to be some changes, just to really work hard and figure out what worked best for us to keep going.”
This will be the third time one of Krull's teams has reached the state finals (Bellmont won in both 2007 and 2010), but for the seniors on the team this will be their first and only chance to play for a state title in Muncie.
“The things we do on and off the court; ... we're just really lucky to have seniors like them, and when I'm a senior I hope to be like them, bring our team together and do really fun activities together,” sophomore middle hitter Meg Saalfrank said.
In between the preparation for the match, McBride said her coach is reminding the team just to enjoy the ride.
“I just told them that we're going to have to take it all in, because the news, the newspaper, everyone's going to want to talk to you, everyone on the street is going to want to talk to you, so just enjoy it,” said Krull, who noted that there are already plans for a pep rally and a police escort to lead the team bus out of town on the road to Muncie.
“I know we have to focus on volleyball, but enjoy the experience because you're one of the lucky teams to be there, and some of you, you may never be here again.”
If you go
Who: Bellmont (25-10) vs. Brownstown Central (32-5)
What: Class 3A volleyball state championship
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Worthen Arena, Ball State University, Muncie
Admission: $12 per person
TV: Fox Sports Indiana