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MUNCIE — A stunned Indianapolis Brebeuf Jesuit Braves volleyball team walked off the floor Saturday at the John E. Worthern Arena on the campus of Ball State University asking the question 'did anyone get the license number of the truck that just hit us?'"
About 2,000 jurors from Adams County had the answer and the license plate number was "1A SQUAWS" as the Bellmont volleyball team convincingly rolled to the class 3A state volleyball title in the IHSAA State Finals over the defending state champs.
With the roaring approval of a mass crowd (BHS officials noted they sold all 500 tickets they were alloted by the IHSAA for pre-sale and could easily have sold a couple hundred more; at least three times that many joined the pre-sale fans to back the Squaws), Bellmont notched a three-game sweep by scores of 25-23, 25-14, 27-25.
Brebeuf was ranked number one in the latest state volleyball poll in class 3A while Bellmont was fourth. Bellmont had played Brebeuf in the 2007 state finals in the morning round and knocked off the Braves that year as well enroute to its first state volleyball championship in school history.
"We have six seniors on this team and before the match I told them this was their last chance. The entire team played an unbelievable match. We're not just a one person star team. We needed everyone to play to their ability tonight and they all filled in a need. We needed everyone tonight to win," pointed out Bellmont coach Craig Krull.
Krull stressed that "we did what we had to do to win. I scouted them (Brebeuf) and they didn't do anything at all differently tonight than what they did when I watched them. Before the season started, I really felt we'd be in the state finals and that it would probably come down to us playing Brebeuf. Just the way it worked out," he said.
"These girls...I just want them to know how proud I am of them," he added.
Two of the six Bellmont seniors, Alex Fuelling and Chelsea Colclasure, have a unique status in the fact they played significant roles in the 2007 state championship title run as freshmen and then finished their high school volleyball careers with another championship ring by playing key roles in the BHS victory over Brebeuf.
Madison Schultz was also a member of the 2007 champs but did not see action that year.
"We did what we had to do," Fuelling said, adding "the serving pressure was key. We had a lot of momentum and we had some nerves but they were good ones. We just came out and did what we had to do."
Fuelling, who who soon sign a letter of intent to play college volleyball at Morehead State University, praised the work of all of her teammates.
"Chelsea was just awesome tonight. She'd get the balls out of the back row every time. Steph (Shoup, the BHS junior setter) had some amazing sets which makes it easy for us to hit. Everyone did their job and worked together," Fuelling noted.
Colclasure has been one of the main defensive leaders for Bellmont all year long as its libero player and it was a rare occurrence that an opponent's shot would land in the back of the BHS court.
"That's my job to get everything I can," she noted, adding "we came ready to play. We knew Brebeuf was a good team and we knew we had to come out and play our best. I didn't think we would win in three, but just win."
Colclasure had perhaps the play of the night for the Squaws at a critical time of game three.
Brebeuf had led 20-19 but knocked a serve attempt out of bounds to tie the match. A Brebeuf kill attempt on the next rally was hit twice on the Bellmont side and appeared to be going to the floor when Colclasure, on her knees, hit an awkward swing and somehow directed the ball back to the Brebeuf side where shocked Braves watched it fall in bounds near the side line.
"I don't remember a whole lot about the match tonight other than the fact that we won but of the two or three things I do remember, one was the play by Chelsea getting the ball back over the net. I thought the ball might go out and kept saying 'please drop, please drop, please drop,'" Krull said.
His prayers were answered and the Squaws led 21-20. The match was far from over, however, as after a Brebeuf time out, Kristen Hullett answered with a kill for a tie. The match was again tied at 22 and 23, the latter on a back row kill by Fuelling. A center line foul on the Squaws put the Braves up at game point at 24-23 but senior Emily Pierce, who had led the Squaws to victory in game one with a strong effort, pounded home a kill and when senior Madison Schultz put a Brebeuf kill attempt right back in their face with a strong block kill, it was the Squaws that were at game point.
With nothing but the state championship title on the line, Pierce, who was one of the top servers in the state this year with 68 aces to her credit, toed the service line and promptly plunked her serve into the net giving Brebeuf new life.
"Emily played awesome for us tonight. She was a big key for us in the first game (five kills) and even though she had a few errors, she stuck in there and played an unbelievable game for us. Those things (net serve) happen. If we had to repeat that situation again, I'd love for her to be serving for us," Krull noted.
And even though the game was tied at 25-all, it seemed as though Brebeuf knew it was over. They were unable to return a Bellmont shot with their third shot finding the net and on game point, a kill attempt sailed out of bounds starting the Bellmont championship celebration.
"You know, people have come up to me and said 'you guys won't be very good next year because of the seniors you're losing (Fuelling, Madison Schultz, Pierce, Jessica Sweney, Gabbie Weaver, and Colclasure — the first three combined for 914 kills this year)'. Well, they're wrong because I think we'll be very good again. Yes, we lose a lot of talent but we have a lot of youngsters from this year's team who now know how it feels to win and they'll want to be back here. Our JV and freshmen team were very successful this year too," Krull emphasized.
At a pep session at Bellmont late Saturday night, Krull laid to rest any thoughts of coaching anyplace other than Bellmont.
"I've heard some rumors about me leaving to go coach someplace else, maybe to the college level. Those are absolutely ridiculous. I'm going to stick around right here. I don't have any interest in coaching college--the kids here listen to me, at least most of the time," he laughed to the cheers of the Bellmont contingent present.
Krull said he thought a key to the BHS win was the pressure the Squaws put on the Braves.
"We started blocking and touching a lot of balls keeping them in play. That got them frustrated because they didn't think that many balls would be coming back at them," he said.
The Squaws opened the day on fire jumping out to a 3-0 lead in game one and later were up 8-3 before Brebeuf answered with the firepower of hitter Jeme Obeime for a 10-9 lead. Kills by Fuelling and Pierce put the Squaws back up but the match was so close that ties occurred at every point between 14 and 21. A two-hit call on Brebeuf and a Pierce ace forced Brebeuf coach Brian Murray to call time out with BHS up 23-21. After Obeime and Natalie Wichern slammed in kills for Brebeuf to tie the game, Bellmont picked off the last two points for the win as Shoup tipped in a kill and Brebeuf was unable to return Fuelling's kill.
Bellmont had 17 kills in game one led by Pierce and Fuelling with five each while Payton Schultz and Madison Schultz each accounted for three and Shoup had one. Colclasure had eight of her game-high 19 digs in the opening round while Shoup handed out 15 of her 41 assists on the night. Obeime had four kills while Hullett and Sloane White both had three.
The second game was dominated by Bellmont with Fuelling scoring the final three points in less than 30 seconds.
Up 22-14, Fuelling drilled in one of her five kills in the game for a point and then went to the service line. Her serve caromed off the top of the net and fell to the Brebeuf side for an ace and a 24-14 edge. Her laser serve on game point zipped to the floor between two Brebeuf back row players for another ace and a 2-0 Bellmont lead.
Defensively, Bellmont picked up its game as well in game two. In the opening round, the Squaws didn't have any blocked shots but came up with five in the second contest. There were five ties early in the match and two lead changes, but when Bellmont took an 8-7 lead on a Pierce kill, they never looked back.
Bailee Hankenson, a freshman who started the match for the Squaws, nailed a kill. Four straight BHS points were added for a 13-8 lead but three net foul calls on Brebeuf, two solid block kills in a row by Madison Schultz (she had 12 kills in the match and three blocks) two kills by Fuelling, and an assortment of Brebeuf errors pushed the margin to 22-14. That led to Fuelling making quick work of the final three points.
Shaken by the Bellmont domination of game two, the Braves tried to regroup in game three, a game that saw 16 ties and nine lead changes. There appeared to be a scoring snafu early in the match that saw points deleted from the Bellmont score and added to the Brebeuf side but after several consultations between the umpire and officials scorer, the score stood.
Pierce served up a pair of aces early for a 6-2 lead. Obeime tossed home two straight kills to tie the match at 8-8 leading to a slew of ties, the last of this group coming at 12-12 on a deftly-placed Payton Schultz tip kill. A BHS net serve, illegal lift call and kill by Hullett gave Brebeuf a three-point edge at 15-12 and the Braves also led at 16-13 for their largest leads of the night.
Bellmont slowly whittled the lead down keyed by two Madison Schultz kills to 17-16 before Obeime's kill gave the Braves some hope at 18-16. A Brebeuf serve went out of play, Fuelling had two kills and suddenly Bellmont was back in business with a 19-18 advantage. After ties at 19 and 20, Colclasure's play briefly put the Squaws back up but the match was again tied at 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25 before Bellmont finally put it away.
"I guess it was a lot like '07," explained Krull. We went over to win the final match against Brebeuf there at 26-24. Tonight we have to go past 25 to win the final match."
Brebeuf entered the state finals with the number one ranking tattooed on their backs and Madison Schultz noted "they are number one in the state and I can't believe we pulled together to beat them in three games. It was just amazing. I didn't lose any confidence in us at all. I knew we would pull though." Schultz had eight of her 12 kills in the third game for Bellmont.
The stats in every category favored Bellmont.
The Squaws had 47 kills (Fuelling 16, Madison Schultz 12, Pierce eight, Payton Schultz seven) to 34 for Brebeuf (12 by Obeime and nine each from Hullett and White), won the assist battled 43-31 (41 for Shoup and 27 for Wichern of Brebeuf), scored 47 digs (Colclasure 19, Fuelling 10, and five each from Allison Gutierrez, Shoup, and Pierce) to 41 for Brebeuf (13 for Natalie Wichern, nine for Hillary Porter and eight for Jadyn Yarling), had six blocks to four for Brebeuf, and had eight aces to four for Brebeuf (three of the aces for the Braves came in game one before the BHS defense tightened up).
Bellmont had a hitting percentage of .280 (which improved in each game as the night went on) to .179 for Brebeuf.
The highlight of the night for Brebeuf was the fact that Obeime was named as the winner of the 2010 Mental Attitude Award for class 3A by members of the IHSAA executive council. The award goes annually to a senior of a state finalist team who demonstrates excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership, and athletic ability. Farm Bureau Insurance presented a scholarship check in Obeime's name to Brebeuf High School for the award.
In other class volleyball games played Saturday, the class 1A match was the only one to go beyond three games as Lafayette Central Catholic topped Indianapolis Lutheran 25-9, 17-25, 25-18, 25-18. In class 2A, the Muncie Burris machine continued its domination of volleyball winning its 14th consecutive state championship title with a 25-12, 25-12, 25-11 drubbing of Fairfield and in class 4A, hometown favorite Muncie Central lost to Penn High School 18-25, 28-30, 22-25.
Other mental attitude award winners were Claire Riehle of Lafayette Central Catholic in 1A, Kelsey Carr of Muncie Burris in 2A, and Zoe Bilello of Muncie Central in 4A.