MUNCIE IND - On Saturday, Ball State continued its tradition of hosting the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s (IHSAA) State Volleyball Championships at Worthen Arena.
Class 1A: Southwood (31-4) vs. Tecumseh (32-4)
The first matchup of the day did not disappoint as the Southwood Knights defeated the Tecumseh Braves in 4 sets, winning their first state championship in school history.
The Braves came out swinging and captured the momentum early. They were led by senior Jenna Donohoo, who had five kills in the first set. Southwood struggled with seven attack errors to assist the Tecumseh lead as the Braves took the first set 25-15.
Southwood came out with a vengeance for the next three sets, stealing the momentum and never letting up. Every time the Braves made a surge, the Knights always had an answer.
“[It’s] the resiliency of our kids,” Knights head coach Tom Finicle said. “We’ve been in that situation a couple of times in the tournament, but we’ve handled the situation brilliantly and got it settled.”
With an all-around effort from Southwood, the Knights won the final three sets (25-17, 25-22, 25-19) to capture the state title. Star freshman Shania Rhamy led the way for the Knights with 13 kills in the match.
For a head coach as long-tenured as Finicle, this championship means a lot.
“I’ve been here for 35 years,” Finicle said. “We’ve been chasing this for a long time, and it’s so cool to finally catch it. I’m happier than crap for our kids because they played so hard.”
Class 2A: Muncie Burris vs. Brownstown Central
The Muncie Burris Owls (31-4) and Brownstown Central Braves (24-14) met for the Class 2A state title. Coming into this matchup, Burris hadn’t lost a single set all postseason, and that trend would continue in this one as the Owls swept the Braves.
Major contributors for the Owls were senior Aubrey Miller who amassed 16 kills, and junior Lilly Howell chipped in 13 of her own with a 60% hitting percentage.
Class 3A: Belmont (#2) vs. Providence (#1)
The Bellmont Braves (34-2) vs. Providence Pioneers (30-5) was probably the most anticipated matchup of the state finals and it did not disappoint.
In the clash between the number one and two ranked teams in 3A, it was a back-and-forth affair as expected. Both competitors showed their grit and toughness but ultimately, it was Providence who came out on top to clinch the 3A state title 3-1.
Providence grabbed an early lead in the first set to go up 7-2, but the Braves put up a fight, going on a 16 to 5 run to take the lead 18-12. To close out the first set, the Pioneers answered with a run of their own to take the first set 25-19.
The second set began no differently and resulted in a grueling, hard-fought 31-29 win for the Pioneers. There were 15 ties and nine lead changes in the second set.
Down the stretch, the Braves showed a lot of fight but couldn’t seem to get over the hump. Providence head coach Terri Purichia saw the fire from the opposing sideline.
“They had a hunger in their eyes,” Purichia said. “We didn’t really match it at first, so we had to shake off the nerves and settle down to be able to execute the game plan.”
The Pioneers would drop set three to Bellmont 25-23 but closed out the championship in set four 25-21.
“This means everything,” Purichia said. “I don’t think anybody realizes how hard it is to do even though you have a group of kids that was on this stage before. It’s a lot of pressure.”
Class 4A: Hamilton Southeastern vs. Castle
The final match of the day had an undefeated season on the line as Hamilton Southeastern (32-0) and Castle (34-4) set to face off for the state championship. The Royals were able to keep the undefeated season alive to the end as they defeated the Knights 3-1.
For Castle, it was a slow start to the match offensively as they never really were able to find their footing. The defensive effort was there for both sides as multiple players had diving saves and were leaping into the benches to save the ball.
Hamilton Southeastern was able to capitalize on Castles’ slow start, taking the first set 25-18.
The second set began similarly with some offensive struggles from the Knights. The Royals took the lead early, but something changed halfway through the set and Castle slowly began to claw back.
Hamiltons’ head coach Jason Young watched his team struggle as they lost only their fifth set of the year 26-24.
“Our second set was rough,” Young said. “We had multiple opportunities to close it out and we didn’t.”
From that point on the Royals knew they couldn’t give the Knights any more room to breathe. They proceeded to take the following two sets with scores of 25-20 and 25-15, respectively.
“That could’ve been a moment where we got ourselves in trouble,” Young said. “These kids did an unbelievable job rallying and taking care of business.”
Contact David Moore with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on X @gingninj63