Sectional Volleyball

Red Devils deny Athenians sectional title

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FRANKFORT — Crawfordsville volleyball knew it would have its hands full in the Class 3A Sectional 20 Championship game Saturday. After defeating Frankfort in three sets (25-19, 25-18, 25-17), the Athenians took on the West Lafayette Red Devils, a team the Athenians lost to 3-0 earlier this season. Unfortunately for Crawfordsville, this time would yield the same result, and once again the Athenians were denied a sectional title, falling in three sets (25-11, 25-20, 25-16).

“We battled them all night and fought hard,” longtime Crawfordsville coach Kelly Johnson said. “I’m very proud of my girls and they (West Lafayette) have a lot of fire power on the other side of the court. Hats off to them they’re a terrific team.”

After trading points the entire second set, the Athenians and Red Devils were all tied up at 20-20 as Crawfordsville looked to even up the match. However the Red Devils scored the final five points to seal the set two victory.

Over the course of the two matches on Saturday, Macy Bruton tallied 30 kills and 10 digs. Olivia Reed added in 15 digs, Laine Schlicher totaled 23 assists and eight digs. Hallie Gayler recorded 14 kills, Halle Elliot 12 digs, Shea Williamson 12 digs and eight kills, and Alyx Bannon had seven total kills.

A season ago, West Lafayette was forced to withdraw from the tournament before they even played a game due to COVID-19. In the opening round, they had to defeat rival Benton Central (26-5) and the task didn’t get any easier with having to defeat a tough Athenian squad for the second time.

“Last year was devastating for us,” Red Devils coach Shari Bittles said. “Our girls have worked really hard to get back here and have stayed at the pace they wanted to be at. We have tremendous leaders and as a coach you want those leaders who can take you through a season and I can’t say enough about this team. They just have mentality that will take them places.”

The win for the West Lafayette improves their record to 26-2 on the season.

“Crawfordsville has played a lot better since we last played them,” Bittles said of the Athenians. “We knew that Macy was going to come out with some firepower like she usually does, but every single one of our girls stepped up and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Crawfordsville will graduate six seniors in Reed, Schlicher, Bannon, Williamson, Liddy McCarty and Taedyn Cook.

“I can’t say enough about all of those girls,” Johnson said. “They’re such a fantastic group. They were so much fun to coach and will surely be missed. All six of them have been a big part of our program the last four years.”

Crawfordsville ends the season with a record of 24-7. It marks back-to-back 24-win seasons for the Athenians. With all the talent coming up, Johnson knew this time would come and now with the success of the program the past two years, Crawfordsville volleyball has been put back on the map.

“These kids as freshman, we saw the potential of what we could be,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that these girls couldn’t break through and win a sectional, but we’ve just had battles with really good teams. At the end of the day, I’m not going to cut my kids short on anything. For the size and physical difference between our teams I thought we played fantastic volleyball tonight.”

West Lafayette advances to the regional semi-finals Saturday at Kankakee Valley and will play Culver Academies.

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