The 2017 volleyball postseason is underway with all five Jackson County schools vying for sectional titles.

Owls prepping for Saturday

Seymour is playing some of its best volleyball leading into Class 4A Sectional 15 (New Albany) play.

Owls coach Holly Birdsong hopes the team can keep up that level of play when it takes on either Bedford North Lawrence or Jennings County at 11 a.m. Saturday.

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The Stars and Panthers opened the sectional Tuesday night.

Seymour (7-23) lost to BNL in a Hoosier Hills Conference match in five sets and defeated the Panthers twice — in an HHC match at home and at the Trinity Lutheran Tournament.

On Thursday, Providence will face New Albany, and Jeffersonville will play Floyd Central. The winner of those matches will play in the second match Saturday.

“The last couple matches, we played well as a team together,” Birdsong said. “We made some improvements, so hopefully going into Saturday’s match, we can continue that.”

Jessica Blevins leads the Owls in kills (221), blocks (36) and in ace serves (36).

Birdsong said if the Owls face the Stars, they need to slow down their outside hitter, Jenna Dufresne, who has 382 kills.

“Bedford has a little bit stronger offense coming at us, especially with their outside hitter, that we’re going to have to be ready for, but Jennings has improved as the season has gone along, too. Either team will be a good opponent for us,” she said.

She said blocking will be important.

“If we’re playing against Bedford, their outside hitter is their main hitter, and we’re going to have to put up a big block against her,” she said. “That was something that was hard for the first time we played them. We do not have a lot of tall girls on our team to be able to put that block up.”

Emily Corcoran leads the Owls in digs with 384.

Birdsong said the Owls need to serve aggressively.

“Jennings had a little bit better serve receive on us than Bedford did — not that Bedford’s was awful in any way — but we have to stay aggressive on our serves to stay on both of those teams to keep them out of their system,” she said.

“In different games this season, we’ve had different type serves from our team. If we can stay aggressive, we have some girls that are able to score points on their serves. It just seems to be when we get nervous or it gets tight, they ease up on their serves or we don’t consistently keep our serves in bounds, and that really hurts us.”

Whichever team they’re facing, the Owls anticipate good competition.

“The first game Saturday morning will be a good start for us,” Birdsong said. “We’re definitely going to have to come out ready to play if we want to get through that game. Whoever gets through that morning bracket is going to have a big match against them Saturday night.”

Providence is No. 1 in Class 4A with a record of 30-1. The Pioneers won the Class 3A state titles the past two seasons.

Braves eyeing title

The Class 3A Sectional 30 (Silver Creek) began Tuesday night when Salem faced Charlestown.

Brownstown Central will play the winner of that match at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Silver Creek will face Corydon Central, and North Harrison will battle Scottsburg in matches Thursday night, and those winners will advance to the second match Saturday.

Brownstown owns wins against Salem and Charlestown, both at home in Mid-Southern Conference matches. The Braves beat both the Lions and Pirates 3-0.

Braves coach Jennifer Shade came away from Saturday’s Carmel Invitational feeling confident.

“We felt like this weekend was important for us to play some really competitive teams to help us prepare. The pace we saw this weekend was really fast, faster than what we’ve seen all year,” she said. “We’ve taken some close losses, some tight losses, but we’re OK with that as long as it makes us better.”

The Braves (19-12) have beaten all of the other sectional teams except Silver Creek, which they have lost to three times.

Silver Creek won the Mid-Southern Conference title, and the Braves were second.

“We will never overlook anyone,” Shade said. “We will prepare for all teams, but we will prepare for who we think will move into the final games. If we would get to the final game, we feel like we would be playing against Silver Creek.

“We’ve got their number, probably the same as they probably have our number, so there probably won’t be too many surprises that night on what’s going to happen.”

Shade said she has confidence in the Braves’ defense.

“One thing I think will be big is defensive positioning,” she said. “We will track their hitters, and we will know exactly where they are prone to hit the ball, and we want to have people in those areas, so this week, we will spend time getting our defense in the correct position, and that includes the blockers, if they’re going to block line or block cross-court.

“We have a lot to talk about this week. We can’t spend our whole week on that because we have to win our first match to even be able to be in the finals. By getting the bye, that gives us five good days for practice, so I feel like we should be really prepared for Saturday.

Shade said she expects her team to be focused when they take the court.

“One thing I can’t control is the girls’ attitudes on that day,” she said. “I think with it being sectional, you’ll see all 12 of the players show up ready to go and face the challenge. This has been such a fun season, such an exciting season, and we’ve really seen the girls progress.”

Claire Pace tops the Braves in attack kills with 273, and Keeli Darlage is next with 265.

Brooklyn Snodgrass leads the team in digs with 481, and four other players have more than 200 digs.

The last time the Braves won a sectional title was in 2013.

Cougars, Hornets, Tigers go to Edinburgh

Half of the Class A Sectional 62 features Jackson County schools.

Medora kicks off the sectional, hosted by Edinburgh, with Shawe Memorial at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The Hornets (10-11) enter the sectional with confidence.

After a rocky start to the season, the Hornets found a formula for success.

“I think that they’re gaining more confidence,” Hornets coach Sara Todd said. “The first week, we switched rotations a handful of times. About the third week of the season, we switched to our current rotation. I think everyone is getting comfortable in their spots, which is why we’re winning so much.”

Looking at schedules, the Hornets feel they’re capable of opening with a win.

“They’ve been beat by a couple teams we’ve beat,” Todd said. “That gives you some confidence going into it. With the way we’ve been playing, I think we’ve got a good shot at moving forward.”

For the Hornets, staying strong mentally will lead to any postseason successes.

“We’re going to try and be mentally tough,” Todd said. “We want to go in with the attitude we’ve had. Hopefully, we’ll have good luck and make it to the championship game.”

Following the Medora-Shawe match, Crothersville and West Washington will square off in the 7:30 p.m. match.

The Tigers (3-19) fell to the Senators 3-0 early on in the season, but they look forward to a rematch.

“I’m excited. It was our third game of the season,” Crothersville coach Kourtney Settle said. “I was glad we didn’t draw a team we’d just played or a team we hadn’t seen before. I’m happy with it.”

The Tigers have a young team with just two seniors on the roster going into the sectional.

“I think it could be an advantage,” Settle said. “They’re going to gain a lot of experience. Having a lot of young girls is exciting. I get to see how they grow. They need this kind of experience.

“I’ve had a couple girls already tell me they’re pumped up. I told them that they just need to talk more. They need to get excited. If they keep communicating, it’s going to be more fun and play better.”

Settle said she’s excited to coach in a sectional match for the first time.

“It will be really different being on the other side of a sectional game,” she said. “I really hope that they play the way I know they can play. I hope they can find confidence in themselves and use it.”

Trinity Lutheran and the host school both drew bye the first round and will play in the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Cougars (19-13) are looking for a fourth straight title and enter as the sectional favorites.

This past weekend, Trinity defeated the Lancers (9-22) 2-0 in tournament action.

“I think we’re at a good point right now,” Trinity coach Chelsea Stroub said. “We’re coming together well. We’re working out a couple of kinks and injuries, but I think we’re figuring it out and everything will connect.”

In practices this week, the Cougars are fine-tuning the fundamentals.

“We have a lot on our agenda,” Stroub said. “We’re working on our game. We’re working on the speed and tempo. We’re going back to the fundamentals, critiquing that and going from there.

“We need to work on our passing and serving. If we can run our offense, we can stick with anyone. We just need to make sure that we control the tempo.”

Sectional Schedule

Class 4A Sectional 15 (New Albany)

Thursday

6 p.m. Providence vs. New Albany

7:30 p.m. Jeffersonville vs. Floyd Central

Saturday

11 a.m. Seymour vs. Bedford North Lawrence/Jennings County

12:30 p.m. Thursday winners

7 p.m. Championship

Class 3A Sectional 30 (Silver Creek)

Thursday

6 p.m. Corydon Central vs. Silver Creek

7:30 p.m. North Harrison vs. Scottsburg

Saturday

11 a.m. Brownstown Central vs. Salem/Charlestown

12:30 p.m. Thursday winners

7 p.m. Championship

Class A Sectional 62 (Edinburgh)

Thursday

6 p.m. Shawe Memorial vs. Medora

7:30 p.m. West Washington vs. Crothersville

Saturday

11 a.m. Thursday winners

12:30 p.m. Edinburgh vs. Trinity Lutheran

7 p.m. Championship

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