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VOLLEYBALL: No.14 Highlanders leave Stars low

Floyd Central's Sara Sans controls the ball at the net during Thursday night's sectional clash with BNL. The Highlanders swept the Stars in three sets.

Floyd Central’s Sara Sans controls the ball at the net during Thursday night’s sectional clash with BNL. The Highlanders swept the Stars in three sets.

Floyd Central hammers

out sectional triumph

over BNL in three sets

By Justin Sokeland

TheHHCSports.com

JEFFERSONVILLE – The best in the Hoosier Hills Conference, and the three-time defending sectional champion, smacked down Bedford North Lawrence in the opening round of the Class 4-A tournament on Thursday night.

No.14 Floyd Central cruised to the semifinal round of the sectional at Jeffersonville with a tidy sweep of the Stars. Junior middle hitter Molly Ottersbach, with a wicked, diving serve from the back line and a hard hammer at the front, powered the Highlanders to a 25-15, 25-18, 25-17 victory and a rematch with No.12 New Albany.

The Bulldogs (25-9) brushed aside Jeffersonville in three sets in the opener.

Floyd Central (21-13) had little trouble with BNL (20-13), other than a brief BNL lead early in Game 2. The Highlanders erased that with a devastating run, then pounded its way to a 14-4 advantage in the final game. By then, it was over. By then, Floyd’s dominance in all phases – particularly in ball control – was obvious.

“We didn’t control the ball well enough, and that’s what we had to do,” BNL coach Scott Saunders said. “We played well at times, did a lot of good things. It was those silly errors at the wrong time. You do that against a quality team, and the quality team is still going to be playing, and you’re going to be going home.

BNL's Jenna Dufresne celebrates a point during BNL's run to the lead in Game 2.

BNL’s Jenna Dufresne celebrates a point during BNL’s run to the lead in Game 2.

“That’s where we’re at.”

Floyd roared to a 10-3 lead in the opening game, although BNL did slice that deficit to 15-13 before faltering. The Stars took momentum in the next set, with Hannah Dotts scoring with a shot off blockers at the net and a clean kill to the open floor, to grind out a lead midway through the set.

That lasted about a long as civility in the presidential campaign. Floyd scored seven straight points for a 19-14 lead. In fact, the Highlanders scored 27 of the next 35 points.

“Offensively, we do what we do,” FC coach Bart Powell said. “We’ve been playing pretty good ball the last couple of weeks.”

Floyd had the more consistent attack, with sophomore setter Sara Sans (31 assists) spreading the wealth at the net among Ottersbach (9 kills), Alexis Smith (8 kills) and Mia Swearingen (6 kills). By the way, none of them are seniors.

BNL’s exposed problems were the same ones that constantly plagued the Stars – poor passing off serves, scrambling sets, and ill-timed swings. Jenna Dufresne had 11 kills, Tristin Day added 7 kills and 9 digs, and Dotts totaled 4 kills and 5 digs.

Molly Ottersbach (36) controlled action at the net as Floyd Central advanced to the sectional semifinal.

Molly Ottersbach (36) controlled action at the net as Floyd Central advanced to the sectional semifinal.

Floyd Central will meet New Albany for the third time this season, and Powell doesn’t believe in the critic’s unproven wisdom that it’s tough to beat a team three times in one season. However, he was also quick to point out FC must raise its game to advance.

“We have to come to compete, come to play with heart,” Powell said. “I expect us to see us play a little bit better on Saturday. We have to, or we go home.”

New Albany crushed the Red Devils (11-20) with precision, rolling to a 25-18, 25-14, 25-19 win. Allyson Cathey, one of the top hitters in the state, banged down 13 kills and had 11 digs, Madelyn Webber had 16 kills and 9 digs, and Sadie Meyer added 34 assists.

“We played in spurts,” New Albany coach John Breeding said. “We played really well at times, then lost focus. At the same time, her (Jeff coach Liz Laythe) kids played hard, and we got back on our heels. But we get to move on. We have to play better on Saturday morning.”

The Highlanders and Bulldogs will collide in the first semifinal at 11 a.m. Seymour and Jennings County, which received byes, will meet in the second match, with the winners meeting in the final at 7 p.m.