For The Tribune

MADISON

Seymour gave Columbus East a major headache during the championship match of Saturday’s Hoosier Hills Conference volleyball tournament.

But the Olympians came through at the end of both sets to pull out a 30-28, 25-23 victory and capture their first HHC title since 2012.

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East (19-4), ranked No. 11 in Class 4A, was playing catch-up during the grueling first set. They had some miscommunications that gave the Owls (12-11) several set points.

When the Olympians’ communication finally got resolved, they found a way to come back and prevail. They turned to their top hitter, Cortney VanLiew, who had great help from Kendal Williams setting her up to help score four of the final five points in the first set.

The momentum carried over into the second set, as East established great teamwork to jump out to an early 11-6 lead. The Olympians slammed the door shut at any comeback attempt by Seymour to hold on and capture the set and championship.

Seymour coach Holly Birdsong said she liked her team coming out strong in the beginning against the Olympians.

“We played pretty hard,” Birdsong said. “We came out ready to play, but we just are not confident enough in a lot of things that we do. Players were running into each other, but I was pleased with their play in the final game.”

Floyd Central had knocked out the Olympians the past two years in the HHC Tournament. East knocked off its nemesis 28-30, 25-19, 25-18 in the opening round Saturday.

In the semifinal round, the Olympians prevailed against New Albany 25-11, 25-20.

East coach Stacie Pagnard had a lot of trust in her role players and was glad to see them pull through.

“We talked about this in the beginning of the season that if we are going to be great, our role players have to step up at big times, and this was as big of a moment that they could get playing in a conference championship,” Pagnard said.

Seymour downed Jeffersonville 25-9, 25-10 in the opening round. In the semifinals, Bedford North Lawrence proved to be much harder, but the Owls prevailed 25-17, 21-25, 25-20.

“We played great in our opening match and took care of business in two games,” Birdsong said. “Against Bedford, we kind of slowed down a little and did not play as well. They may have been overconfident a bit, thinking that it was going to be easy.”

Jennings County bounced back from a 25-16, 25-14 first-round loss to Bedford to beat Jeffersonville 10-25, 25-21, 26-24. The Panthers then fell to Floyd Central 25-16, 25-14 to finish sixth.

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James Pence is a sports correspondent for The Republic.