By GREG MENGELT
Of the four local teams at Saturday’s Jeffersonville Invitational, none finished better than fourth place. None had a winning record and Christian Academy and Jeffersonville played each other to avoid finishing last.
However, Jeff, CAI, Henryville and Silver Creek all learned a lot about themselves after facing a tough eight-team field.
“We knew if we were going to get better, we had to play teams like we did today,” Christian Academy coach Walter Pauly said.
“We knew coming in to today’s invitational that we were going to face some tough opponents,” Silver Creek coach Jeff Zimmerman added.
Henryville went 2-2 and placed fourth — the area’s best finisher. The Hornets won two tight matches, knocking off Jeffersonville 25-23, 26-24 and Forest Park 25-22, 27-25 in Pool B. Sandwiched in between was a 25-5, 25-21 loss to eventual runner-up Evansville Mater Dei.
In the consolation match, Henryville fell to Boonville 25-21, 25-13.
“I’m very please with my girls today,” Hornets coach Shallon Hill said. “Aside from the first game with Mater Dei, we were competitive and played some good volleyball.”
Henryville, which is now 8-8 on the season, was led by Courtney Rappe’s 20 kills, three aces, four blocks and 33 digs.
“Courtney is a great player,” Hill said. “She’s fun to coach and it appears her teammates enjoy the motivation and encouragement she gives everyone. She’s a really smart player.”
Hornet sophomore Emily Hollis had 64 assists on the day.
Coming off of an historic win over Brownstown Central on Thursday, Silver Creek stumbled a bit through Saturday’s invitational.
After opening the day with a 25-11, 25-18 loss to fifth-ranked Seymour and a 25-13, 25-17 win over Christian Acaemy, the Dragons whipped Boonville 25-11 in the opening set of their second match. However, the Pioneers fought back to win the final two sets 25-19, 15-13.
“We were a little concerned coming in after a big win as to how we would play,” Zimmerman admitted. “We played flat today and we know we can play better.”
Creek recovered to handle Forest Park 25-15, 25-11 in the fifth-place match.
“We are still very excited about this team and we still have very high expectations,” Zimmerman said. “We expect to be more competitive next weekend in the Active Ankle Challenge [at New Albany].”
Kaitlyn Ramser had 60 assists, 17 digs, eight aces an four kills for the Dragons. Morgan Reining led Creek with 22 kills, Kendra Kirchgessner led the way with six blocks, Liz Mann had a team-high 10 aces and Brynn Ware paced the Dragons with 20 digs.
Christian Academy fell to Seymour, Silver Creek and Boonville before beating Jeffersonville 25-20, 25-16 in the final round.
“Of course, it was good to finish the day with a win,” Pauly said.
In the fourth matches, Krista Boesing had 24 kills and six blocks, Sierrra Rayzor added 22 kills and six blocks, Emily Haworth finished with 14 kills, Alex Falcone had 65 assists and three aces and Abby Falcone contributed five blocks for the Warriors.
Jeffersonville finished winless but easily could have finished in the top four. Before finished with the loss to CAI, the Red Devils lost heartbreaking matches to Henryville and Forest Park (20-25, 25-22, 18-16) in pool play. The only match they were competitive in was a 25-14, 25-10 defeat at the hands of Mater Dei.
“We had two really close matches at the start of our day and that seemed to wreck our team for the rest of the day,” Jeff coach Renee stock said. “The girls never recovered. We have been working on how to push ourselves all the way to the end of the match and not accept losing. Today, we just could not get over that hump.”
Mary Pat Geary had 10 blocks, Mckenzie Johnson 18 kills, Brooklyn Garrison seven aces and Bayley Whitlow 17 digs to lead the Red Devils. However, it was the play of Rachel Williams and Shelby Moore that Stock commended.
“Rachel Williams and Shelby Moore were communicating and hustling the entire time,” Stock praised. “I was very proud of them for not giving up and playing so hard.”
Seymour won the tournament by going 4-0 and beating Mater Dei 25-12, 25-9 in the championship match.