Brownstown Central left every last bit of energy on the court.
Pushing Class 3A No. 7 Silver Creek to a fifth set, the Braves’ volleyball team needed to string enough points together to top their Mid-Southern Conference foe on the big stage.
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Unfortunately for the Braves, they dug themselves too deep of a hole.
The Braves (20-13) fell to the Dragons 15-11, never leading and tying just once — at 1-1 — in the decisive fifth set for the Class 3A Sectional 30 championship Saturday.
Silver Creek built leads of 4-1 and 13-8 before sealing the sectional crown.
“We had a slow start. We needed to come out of the gate stronger,” Braves coach Jennifer Shade said. “When you dig a hole in a 15-point game, it’s really hard to come back. I felt like we started to get some momentum back, but we ran out of room. A better start would have helped us and putting the ball away a little quicker instead of playing more defense.”
It was the fourth matchup between the Braves and Dragons in 2017 with Silver Creek claiming victories in each meeting.
In the first set, the Dragons took five of the opening six points to sway the momentum early.
The Braves chipped away at the deficit with kills by Keeli Darlage and Grace Jaynes narrowing the score to 23-20.
A block by Jaynes and Claire Pace brought the score to 24-22 before a Braves violation gave the Dragons the opening set 25-22.
Another slow start put the Braves behind 4-0 in the second set, but again, the Braves chipped away.
The Braves took their first lead of the match at 14-13 on an ace by Riley Nuss and a kill from Jaynes.
Brownstown Central would take five of the final six points to win the second set 25-21.
Trailing 19-13 in the third set, the Braves once again battled back.
They put together scoring streaks of four and five points to take a 22-21 advantage.
After trading points, with the score reading 24-24, a Braves service error and a Dragons block gave Silver Creek a 2-1 set lead.
In a tight fourth set, the teams stood deadlocked at 17 when the Dragons called a timeout.
Out of the break, the Braves won three straight points. They then took a 24-20 lead before winning the set on a gritty point that lasted more than a minute.
The Dragons would rally to win the fifth.
The Braves finished 125 for 144 with 45 kills in hits and made 100 of 108 serves with 11 aces.
Darlage had 17 kills, Pace added 12 and Jaynes had nine. Nuss and Madisen Polly each totaled four aces.
Earlier in the day, the Braves defeated Charlestown 25-10, 25-14, 25-13 in the semifinals.
Jaynes and Pace graduate from the Braves’ program.
“They’ve meant more than you can imagine,” Shade said of the seniors. “They were great leaders. This season has just been a blast. It was a lot of fun. There was a lot of support for each other, and the seniors set that example for the team. They helped pull the team together better than I’ve seen in a long time.”
While the final result didn’t go their way, Shade said the team accomplished a lot this season.
“I love this team,” Shade said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win, but I’m proud of the effort and of how much work they’ve put in since June. We came a far way, and it’s a big accomplishment.”