By GREG MENGELT
NEW ALBANY —
New Albany and Jeffersonville both had successful days at Saturday’s River City Invitational at New Albany’s Doghouse.
The host Bulldogs ripped through the competition, sweeping Lanesville, Mt. Vernon and Evansville Central to claim the tournament title.
“I thought coming into today, we’d made some progress in the last week of practice and the two games we’d played,” New Albany coach John Breeding said referencing wins in last weekend’s Bulldogs Invitational. “I really thought we should win in two [sets] and the kids did that. There were some ups and downs, but what I did like is we got down a couple times and they responded and stayed focused.
“They seem to be coming together as a unit. These kids have to work together for us to succeed.”
New Albany, which is now 6-0 on the season, was led by Alexis Lete, who had 15 kills, 10 blocks and four services aces on the day.
“Today our block was good. It was better than it has been,” Breeding said. “Alexis Lete did a nice job on a lot of solo blocks. Blocking’s improving.”
The Bulldogs’ setters were also impressive. Freshman Sadie Meyer finished with 32 assists and Lindsey Harper added 19. They had 13 apiece in New Albany’s win over Lanesville.
“Coming into varsity as a freshman, the game’s a lot faster,” Breeding said. “It’s a higher level. Sadie’s doing a nice job. The thing about her is she’s going to get better and better. Lindsey’s also been setting and she hadn’t really set varsity before. They’re both gaining experience.”
Also for New Albany, Audrey Donastorg finished the day with a team-best 23 kills and Brook McCoy added 11. Madison Dibble led the Bulldogs with 22 digs.
Jeffersonville went 2-1 to finish third in the tourney. Jeff fell just a few points shy of playing the Bulldogs in the championship match. After beating Corydon Central 22-25, 25-18, 25-19, the Red Devils were edged by Central 25-21, 25-23.
They recovered to beat Mt. Vernon 24-26, 25-14, 25-23 to for the third-place finish and are now 4-3 in head coach Renee Stock’s first year of her second stint at Jeff.
“It’s been a long time since Jeff High has finished third in a tournament, especially here at New Albany,” Stock said. “All the girls were concentrating on that. They did not want to repeat the past. They did not want to come in last or second-to-last. They wanted to push through and that’s what our theme is.”
Jeff had several outstanding individual performances, but Jena Reinhardt’s 74 assists stood out.
“She’s been a very big force and leader on our squad,” Stock said of Reinhardt.
Bailey Whitlow moved up to the varsity and had 44 digs over the three matches. Hailey Lacy had 10 blocks.
“She came in and took charge,” Stock said of Whitlow. “McKenna Woodard is another sophomore who came in and stepped up today. [Whitlow and Woodard] have really stepped in and it’s been awesome.”
Brooklyn Garrison led the Red Devils with 19 kills and 11 aces on the day.
“Brooklyn Garrison is an overall athlete,” Stock said. “She’s fantastic.”
Jeffersonville hosts New Washington on Thursday in its next match.
After the 6-0 start, New Albany faces powerhouses Brownstown and Floyd Central on consecutive Thursdays in its next two outings.
“Let’s not beat around the bush, our next two matches are unbelievable,” Breeding said. “Brownstown’s No. 1 in their class [2A], then we come back and play a very talented Floyd Central team. Those are two huge matches against some well-coached, talented volleyball teams.”