OSSIAN—Playing an opponent he readily admitted he knew little about, Bellmont volleyball coach Craig Krull couldn't be faulted if he and his Squaws entered Saturday's championship game of the IHSAA class 3A sectional 23 with not an eye toward their foe, the Mississinewa Indians, but perhaps to Tuesday night's regional match-up with the number one team in class 3A, the Yorktown Tigers.
After all, the Squaws had cruised to victory earlier Saturday over the Norwell Knights in a match that many felt was tantamount to the sectional championship and despite the fact the Indians entered the title round ranked 15th in class 3A (Norwell was 14th) with a 28-4 slate, the talent level they have played paled compared to that in the Squaws' 2012 run.
Mississinewa had a little to say about that attitude before the finals results were etched in stone, however, giving the Squaws something to break a sweat about before falling to the eventual champs as Bellmont won its eighth consecutive sectional title with Krull as its director (two of those years ending in a state championship) by a count of 25-15, 25-17, 25-21.
Mississinewa had advanced to the championship round with a four-game win over Eastbrook on Thursday night and then went another four games in the first match Saturday to knock off Heritage 25-15, 25-14, 22-25, 25-16.
The win for Bellmont was the 29th sectional crown in school history, putting them fourth in the state among schools for most titles won. Bellmont has also picked off 12 regional crowns. Per the IHSAA draw, the regional game between Yorktown and Bellmont will be at Yorktown at 7 p.m. Tuesday night. Yorktown beat number five Muncie Central Saturday morning and then gave up only 20 points in three games in whipping an outclassed Hamilton Heights team in the finals, 25-18, 25-19, 25-20.
"I really didn't know anything about Mississinewa other than what we saw this morning when they played Heritage. It's difficult to play a team you don't know because you don't know how hard they'll play," Krull said, adding "I thought they played well and fought hard against us. I was getting a little nervous there in the third game when they got close at the end."
Krull didn't particularly pick any one Squaw out for playing well but simply noted "this was a good quality win for us. I think the entire team stepped it up and played well. It was important for us to maintain our level of play especially going into the regional on Tuesday night."
"I'm happy (with the sectional championship), it's where we want to be right now, but obviously there's more to do," concluded Krull.
The Bellmont defense was a key to the win over Mississinewa as the Squaws scooped up 59 digs in the match led by Holly Hankenson, Janaya Wilder and Madalyn Mann with 13, 12, and 11 respectively. Natalie Busse and Rachel Salerno each had seven and Bailee Hankenson finished with six. Bailee Hankenson assisted on a pair of block while Audrey Schultz had a solo and assisted block and Holly Hankenson had an assisted effort.