From now until the final point at the state championship, the team with the longest winning streak stands above the rest.

Volleyball sectionals commence tomorrow, and all five Jackson County schools will represent in the postseason.

Owls get favorable draw

Seymour coach Holly Birdsong said she couldn’t have asked for a better draw for the team.The Owls (19-13) will battle Jennings County in the second match Saturday at Jeffersonville.

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Seymour defeated the Panthers 25-11, 25-14, 25-6 in a Hoosier Hills Conference match at North Vernon on Sept. 1.

“This is the only time we played them and we seemed to have a good advantage over them,” Birdsong said. “I think we have a faster offense and stronger servers. This should be a good match for us to start off the sectional with.”

This will be Seymour’s first match since playing at Columbus North on Oct. 11.

“We have a lot we need to work on in practice, so the long break gives us time to focus in on several specific things we need to improve on before sectionals — aggressive serves, blocking, moving our middle hitters around, and confident serve receive passing,” Birdsong said.

“We have been working on serve placement to keep the ball away from our opponents’ best passers, or just serve at their main hitters to keep them out of system.”

She says she has seen a lot of improvement the last couple weeks.

“Our hitters have really started to come on in the past few weeks,” Birdsong said. “They learned to use their shots and listen to their teammates as to how many blockers they have. As far as blocking, blocking could be a key to us getting past a team in our sectional. We have tall girls at the net, but they are young and do not always have good form.”

All the schools in this sectional are members of the HHC, and Seymour went 5-1 against them in HHC play losing only to Floyd Central.

“When our girls come out strong we usually play very well,” Birdsong said. “Hopefully we do not overlook Jennings County. We have to get past them first if we want to have a chance with Floyd Central or New Albany. They believe they can win and hopefully good things will come out of next Saturday.”

Braves face tall task early

For the second consecutive year, Brownstown Central has drawn Class 3A perennial powerhouse Providence in the first-round.The Pioneers (28-5) aim to win their fourth straight state championship in 2016.

Due to the success factor, after winning back-to-back championships in 2013 and 2014, the Pioneers were bumped-up from 2A to 3A in 2015.

On Sept. 29, the Braves (14-19) fell to 25-10, 25-12, 25-13 to Providence.

This time around, the Braves will have an intangible on their side — home court advantage in the sectional.

“Home court advantage will allow our girls to be relaxed,” Braves coach Jennifer Shade said. It’s our facility and locker room and I think it makes a big difference. We’re excited to host the sectional.”

Up front, the Pioneers have a pair of dominant hitters to keep an eye on.

Freshman Courntey Glotzbach has 223 kills and junior Marissa Hornung has amassed 300 on the season.

Keeping the Pioneers’ offense on their heels is one of the focal points heading into the matchup for the Braves.

“We’ve got to keep them off their offense,” Shade said. “We’ve got to serve aggressive so they can’t get the big swings. We need to pick on certain areas of their court to make it difficult for their setters to get to their hitters.

We will have to keep it out of Hornung and Glotzbach’s hands because we know they will have big swings. We need to keep them off-tempo — off-beat — the best we can.”

By design, the Braves have played a gauntlet of a schedule: facing a plethora of ranked teams this season.

Arguably their biggest wins came on Oct. 8, when they won the Bishop Chatard Tournament by topping Warren Central and Park Tudor.

They then concluded the regular season with a match against Floyd Central.

“It’s a tough team, we know what we’re going to face,” Shade said of Providence. “We have their game film and played them once already. We are going to try to find their weaknesses and capitalize on those.”

It’s the only match tonight at the home of the Braves.

Should the Braves advance, they will face a much weaker Charlestown before likely taking on another ranked foe, Silver Creek, in the championship on Saturday.

Tigers get rematch with Senators

Crothersville hopes to spoil West Washington’s home court advantage, and get payback for an early season loss on Thursday.After winning the opening set 25-20, the Tigers dropped the next three 25-18, 25-18, 25-23 in their regular season contest on Aug. 22.

The Tigers (7-17) look to come out more this time around.

“Based on our last meeting with West Washington, we need to be more aggressive,” Tigers coach Linda Luedeman said. “We need to work on our coverage to get the ball up to our offense. I need to get a lot of action out of our blockers. They have a couple of good hitter so we need to slow them down to keep it under control for our offense.”

With a handful of upperclassmen on the roster, Luedeman said that any one of them can take the lead when needed.

“We have ea lot of seniors on our team (five),” she said. “Any one of them at any given time can step-in to be the leader any night. If we can get one or two of them stepping into that role it can be a game changer.”

The team feels that they’re in a good place after strong play in their recent matches.

“The last couple games, I’ve been really pleased with our play,” Luedeman said. “The coverage has been much better. Serving has been going better, too. We have better strategy with hard and softer serves. They’re also communicating much better.”

Staying up early will also make a big difference for the Tigers.

“If we can feel positive going into it and get a good start, that really sets the tone for our communication,” Luedeman said. “We need to stay positive and up, and I think we are right now.’

Should Crothersville take the sectional championship, it would be the first in school history.

Trinity aims for 3-peat

Trinity Lutheran is pegged as the favorite to take the West Washington sectional, and a first-round bye will aid their conquest.The Cougars aim to win a third-straight sectional championship, for what would be their sixth in school history, this weekend.

They’re off until Saturday afternoon, when they play Borden in the finals.

The only school Trinity has faced this season from the sectional is Crothersville — who they swept in straight games.

The past two weeks, the Cougars (14-17) have focused on their own play rather than eyeing the competition.

“We’re just working on our stuff, we’re not focused on each team we’re playing, but our own game,” Cougars coach Chelsea Stroub said. “If we keep our pace and do the things we need to work on I have all the confidence in the world.”

Stroub said that their current record isn’t indicative of the team’s strength, as they boosted their schedule.

While the Cougars struggled at times in the early stages of the season, Stroub feels like the team is currently playing at their best.

“We’re just working together,” Stroub said. “Before, it was a lot of individuals out there playing. We’re just going out now and having fun. You see a different face on each of the girls now compared to the beginning of the season.”

Hornets looking for upset

Coach Sara Todd is hoping the Medora volleyball team is at the top of its game when it faces Orleans in the West Washington Sectional Thursday night.Todd said her team came out strong in the first two sets against Salem last Thursday, resulting in 25-22, 25-21 wins.

The Hornets (5-15) couldn’t keep up the pace and lost in five sets.

“The way we played (Thursday) night I think we’re going to be more competitive with (Orleans),” Todd said. “Everything really came together. But then we had that JV personnel and I had to sit down my varsity girls so we didn’t have a chance in the fifth game.

“Nothing against the JV players that helped us out, they don’t have the experience and they don’t know the rotation as well.”

The Hornets have played the Bulldogs twice, losing at Orleans Sept. 8, and at home to the Bulldogs Sept. 22. Both ended in three sets.

“We’ve got to have communication, movement, and we’ve got to read the ball,” Todd said. “We’ve got to do a better job of reading and reacting.”

One of the goals for the Hornets is for more accuracy on their attacks.

“We’re hitting the ball out a lot this year, and I don’t know why,” Tod said. “I don’t know if it’s all a mental block for them. They’re used to hitting around the blocks. They’ve been picking it up and playing really well lately.

“Katie Beesley is getting with it on the hits. She did well against Salem. Kailen (Flynn) had 52 attacks (against Salem). They not only hit in the front row, but they hit in the back row as well.”

Serving errors will also make a big difference for Medora.

“It doesn’t matter to me if they serve aggressive because volleyball is a game of mistakes. You’re trying to force your mistakes, so don’t hit into the net and give them a point.

“If you’re not for sure of it, get it over the net and make them get it back to us. Force their errors, not ours. If they want to serve aggressively, if they’re confident go for it, but other than that just get it over the net.”

Class A

Class A Sectional 61: West Washington

Match 1: Medora vs. Orleans (Tuesday, 6 p.m.)

Match 2: Crothersville vs. West Washington (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.)

Match 3: Match 1 winner vs. Match 2 winner (Saturday, 11 a.m.)

Match 4: Borden vs. Trinity Lutheran (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.)

Championship: Match 3 vs. Match 4 (Saturday, 7 p.m.)

Class 3A

Class 3A Sectional 30: Brownstown Central

Match 1: Brownstown Central vs. Providence (Today, 7 p.m.)

Match 2: Silver Creek vs. Scottsburg (Thursday, 6 p.m.)

Match 3: Salem vs. Corydon Central (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.)

Match 4: Charlestown vs. Match 1 winner  (Saturday, 11 a.m.)

Match 5: Match 2 winner vs. Match 3 winner (Saturday, 12:30 p.m)

Championship: Match 4 vs. Match 5 winner (Saturday, 7 p.m.)

Class 4A

Class 4A Sectional 15: Jeffersonville

Match 1: New Albany vs. Jeffersonville (Thursday, 6 p.m.)

Match 2: Floyd Central vs. Bedford North Lawrence (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.)

Match 3: Match 1 winner vs. Match 2 winner (Saturday, 11 a.m.)

Match 4: Jennings County vs. Seymour (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.)

Championship: Match 3 winner vs. Match 4 winner (Saturday, 7 p.m.)

Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.