NORTH VERNON – Fast starts and devastating kills powered Floyd Central to its third consecutive Class 4-A volleyball sectional championship.
The Highlanders pounced on New Albany early in each set, and Auburn recruit Gwyn Jones led a hit parade that muscled Floyd to a 25-11, 25-22, 25-12 victory over the Bulldogs in Saturday night’s final. Floyd Central (25-10) advanced to Tuesday night’s one-game regional and will host the Castle-Evansville North winner.
The Highlanders had too much front-row strength. Jones crushed down 16 kills, Mikaila Humphrey totaled 11, and Kayli Dempster added 9 as Floyd Central beat down the Bulldogs for the third time this season. New Albany (18-18) brought out Floyd Central’s best.
“That might have been the best match we’ve played all year,” Floyd coach Bart Powell said. “We were itching to get out there, and when we did, we let it rip. All the hitter took really good swings. We hadn’t been doing that all season.”
Floyd Central blasted away early, roaring to a 5-1 lead in the first set, a 6-1 lead in the second, and a 9-1 advantage in the third. The Bulldogs, even with sophomore star Allyson Cathey at the net, were not equipped to come back.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do to win,” New Albany coach John Breeding said. “I don’t think we played as well as we did in the other games, but let’s be real. Floyd Central had something to do with that.”
With freshman setter Sara Sans handing out 38 assists, the Highlanders worked at full force. Whether it was Jones hammering down her favorite shot, a running jump to the right corner of the court off a short set, or Dempster banging a ball off the face of an unarmed New Albany defender in the back row, Floyd was too tough.
“Gwynn only mishit one ball tonight,” Powell said. “That’s what it’s going to take to win at a higher level. It was an all-out team effort.”
Abby Bigler had 19 defensive digs for the Highlanders, who put no credence in the theory of it being hard to conquer a foe three times in one season.
“I’m not one of those people,” Powell said. “I’m a Cubs fan and we beat the Mets seven times in a row, then lost four in a row. I don’t think the kids thought that either.”
Cathey had 12 kills, Sadie Meyer had 18 assists and Kyla Weber added 9 digs for New Albany.
In the morning semifinals, New Albany fought past Jeffersonville (14-19) by a 20-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-18 count. Cathey had 20 kills and 13 digs, Meyer totaled 44 assists and 9 digs, and Parker Andres added 14 kills for the Bulldogs.
Floyd Central eliminated Seymour (18-12) with a 25-15, 25-18, 22-25, 25-15 victory. Jones had 18 kills, Humphrey had 15 kills and 24 digs, Sans added 48 assists and Bigler totaled 23 digs for the Highlanders.
The regional champion will advance to the two-game semistate at Seymour on Oct. 31.