By KEVIN HARRIS
SEYMOUR — Floyd Central got another chance in the 2013 season to see how it stacked up against defending Class 4A state champion Avon in the Class 4A Seymour Semistate semifinals on Saturday at Scott Gym.
And for the second time this year, the Class 4A No. 2 Orioles showed they still had the upper hand on the No. 6 Highlanders.
Floyd Central saw its season come to an end in a 25-20, 25-22, 25-16 loss to Avon. The Orioles (35-3) beat the Highlanders (29-9) in September at the New Castle Invitational, 25-18, 25-19.
“They are a big, physical team that’s pretty much got everybody back from last year’s team,” Floyd Central coach Bart Powell said about Avon. “They never panic. They’ve been there and know what it’s going to take. I thought there were four teams from the state of Indiana that could win the state championship and we were one of them, with [top-ranked] Carmel being another one and [No. 3] New Castle being the other one.”
The Highlanders played the Orioles close in each of the first two sets, but Avon pulled away at the end of each game thanks to their serving.
“Our serve-receive kind of went away from us. Without question, that was the difference,” Powell said. “Their serve was very aggressive. We passed as good as we could. But in my mind, that’s where the match was won and lost. Their ball control was better than ours.”
The Highlanders built a 12-8 lead in the second set, but the Orioles turned the tables with five consecutive points to go up 13-12. Floyd Central did not get the advantage back the rest of the game.
“That was definitely ball control there,” Powell said about the 5-0 spurt. “That frustrated us a little bit. We weren’t as aggressive serving the ball as they were. We were getting points out of our aggressive serve, but we weren’t as aggressive as they were.”
Avon never trailed in the final set. The Orioles reeled off the first six points of the game and were up 13-4 at the midway point. Their largest lead of the set was 10 points.
Sophomore middle blocker Gwyn Jones paced the Floyd Central offensive attack with 10 kills along with three blocks and two digs. Highlander senior Sydney Engle and Floyd Central sophomore Mikaila Humphrey each spiked six kills. Highlander junior setter Remi Bowman distributed 22 assists and made 2 1-2 blocks. Junior outside hitter Lauren Koopman also chipped in 2 1-2 blocks.
Avon had a solid attack with senior middle blocker Shelby Connors and junior left-side hitter Beth Prince, who earned the ESPNHS Freshman of the Year award as the nation’s top high school rookie two years ago. Powell thought his team’s attack was pretty good as well.
“Obviously, she’s pretty good,” Powell said about Prince. “She got her kills, but I thought our attack was every bit good as theirs. They are just stronger and a little bit bigger than us.”
Engle paced the Floyd Central defense with 16 digs, while senior libero Brooke Hinton added 14. Highlander sophomore Kayli Dempster made 10 digs and Bowman had seven. Also for Floyd Central, senior Tierney Flaherty had six digs, two kills and two service aces and senior Riley Kaiser made four digs.
The Highlanders said goodbye to four seniors in Engle, Hinton, Flaherty and Kaiser. Despite falling in Saturday’s semifinal, Powell said his senior quartet and the rest of his players had several things to be proud of this season. In 2013, the Highlanders won the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament, the Class 4A Floyd Central Sectional and a regional crown last Tuesday at Highlander Gymnasium against Castle.
“I’m so happy for the seniors that we have,“ Powell said. “We didn’t win much their first three seasons, but [this year] we won three tournaments, the conference championship, the sectional and the regional. I told them in the locker room that it seems like a funeral, but we’ve got a load to celebrate this year.”
CLASS 4A SEYMOUR SEMISTATE
AVON 3, FLOYD CENTRAL 0
Avon 25 25 25
Floyd Central 20 22 16
Aces — Floyd Central: Tierney Flaherty 2.
Assists — Floyd Central: Remi Bowman 22, Brooke Hinton 2.
Blocks — Floyd Central: Gwyn Jones 3, Bowman 2 1-2, Lauren Koopman 2 1-2.
Digs — Floyd Central: Sydney Engle 16, Hinton 14, Kayli Dempster 10, Bowman 7, Flaherty 6, Riley Kaiser 4, Mikaila Humphrey 2, Jones 2.
Kills — Floyd Central: Jones 10, Engle 6, Humphrey 6, Koopman 3, Bowman 2, Flaherty 2.