PAYTON CONNECTS â€” Bellmont junior middle hitter Payton Schultz (right) knocks the ball past a Yorktown foe for a kill during play Saturday night in the Plymouth 3A semistate title game. Schultz sparked Bellmont to a 3-1 win over Yorktown with 16 kills in 20 attempts. (Photo by Deb Shannon)
PLYMOUTH — Down 23-19 in the second game after losing the first one, Bellmont, led by Payton Schultz, came alive, zoomed past a stunned Yorktown team with six straight points to tie the match, then won the next two for the 2010 Plymouth Semistate championship and a spot in next Saturday's 3A State Championship match set for Ball State.
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"I can't say enough about how well the girls played tonight," stated Bellmont coach Craig Krull, who will be sending a squad to the state finals for the second time in four years. The Squaws took the 3A title in 2007.
Bellmont will face No.1 and defending 3A champ Brebeuf in the third match at Worthen Arena Saturday with an approximate starting time of 5:30 p.m.
When asked if he had to pick the MVP for the tourney, Krull answered, "no doubt...Payton Schultz. I remember there was this player from Delta her name was Darcy and she went on to Penn State, and when Penn won the national title last year she kept them in the match, and that was Payton tonight. She kept us in the match with her offense and her energy. She picked up everyone else. Payton found a way to get through their front line and then showed the rest and they finally figured it out," praised Krull on his 5-10 junior middle hitter.
"Payton made them adjust and they started having holes in their defense. Volleyball is a game of uhhh.. its just contagious, and Payton was the catalyst for us tonight," Krull added.
Bellmont swept past NorthWood in the first match, and it was a solid team performance in that match as well with Payton Schultz and Alex Fuelling both bringing 12 kills and Madison Schultz 11 with six blocks.
Down early in the second game, Bellmont made a huge run to get back in the game. Still, Yorktown pulled ahead and it looked like the Tigers were about to put the Squaws in a huge 2-0 hole, when everything changed.
One of Yorktown's hitters erred, then Payton scored a big block kill, then Bellmont took charge and yanked the game from the Yorkies.
"It was a total momentum shift," noted Krull.
"Their big hitters, Jill Hopper and Emily Wolfert, were suddenly struggling, and we took control. The turning point was definitely the end of that second game."
At the same time Yorktown became a little timid with their leaders slipping, Bellmont came alive.
"If it wasn't for Payton, we wouldn't have been in that first game (21-25). In fact, we wouldn't have been in any of the games because we got behind in all four. But the girls got their energy back and everyone played well. All the girls stepped up at different times and made plays," said Krull.
The Squaws forced their will at the end of the next two games, winning 25-18, and 25-19. When it ended, Bellmont was hitting on all cylinders.
"Payton and Steph Shoup (setter) had a real good connection and they kept the ball away from our defense. But everyone came alive. When Alex of Madison struggled, Payton, Emily (Pierce), or Bailee was there. Everyone on the floor contributed at a high level," said Krull.
The statistics show that with Madison Schultz hammering 17 kills with 2 solo blocks and 4 block-assists. Payton had an incredible 16 kills in just 20 attempts with only 2 errors, adding 4 block assists.
Fuelling had 15 kills in 32 attempts as she carried the load, adding 3 solo blocks and 3 block assists. She added 2 assists and 8 digs. Pierce churned out 9 kills, adding 8 digs, a solo block and 2 block assists.
Shoup and the defensive players had their best games of the season. Chelsea Colclasure put up 21 digs, adding 4 aces and 2 assists. Shoup put up 45 assists with 13 digs, a kill, an ace and a block. Allison Gutierrez lifted 18 digs and was key with her serve reception.
Bailee Hankenson had 6 kills with 1 solo block, 5 block assists and 3 setting assists.
Bellmont had a total of 7 solo blocks and 19 block assists as the Squaws owned the net, adding 64 kills in the four games.
"Chelsea did a great job setting up our defense. She got on track, made some adjustments, finding the range on Wolfert's cross court spikes. Allison was great, keeping balls alive and I think it was her best day," said Krull.
"Teams try and stay away from Chelsea and Alex. Yorktown was serving at Emily and Alex and I loved it because those girls are great passers," said the coach.
"And Steph ... she just convinced herself to let it go. She's not the most graceful player on the floor, but there she was, diving for balls."
Krull was unhappy with one of the line judges, who appeared to miss several Bellmont balls that were on the line. "I kind let him have it," admitted the coach, who was given a yellow card and had to stay on the bench the rest of the match.
"Things seemed to get better after that."
The 3-1 puts Bellmont at 15-1 in games in the tourney. The Squaws have also won 18 consecutive matches and will take a 34-4 record to Ball State. Yorktown finished 32-6.
"This is the second time in four years to get back to state, but you can't compare the two teams, they are not comparable. The team from '07 didn't have to fight as hard. We fought hard, and we have to fight for everything, and this team has a lot of fight," said the coach.
Pierce added 4 kills and 13 digs, plus 3 blocks against NorthWood in the 25-20, 25-16, 25-12 BHS wins. Colclasure had 18 digs while Gutierrez brought up 12 and 3 assists. Shoup added 32 assists with 7 digs and a block. Madison added 6 blocks and Fuelling 3.