There are a lot of similarities between the two finalists in the class 3A state championship match Saturday evening at Ball State University's Worthern Arena.
Both Bellmont and Brebeuf bring excellent records to the plate with Brebeuf at 31-2 and Bellmont at 34-4. Ironically, of the few losses, both teams suffered defeats at the hands of Yorktown during the regular season. Bellmont repaid the Tigers with a 3-1 setback in the finals of the Plymouth semi-state last Saturday.
Both teams have a pair of senior sluggers who have combined for a ton of kills (Alex Fuelling and Madison Schultz of Bellmont with 482 and 272 for 760 while Brebeuf offers up Sloanne White with 403 and Jeme Obeime at 384 for 787).
If you read an area newspaper, both teams are nicknamed the "Braves" although here in Decatur we much prefer to call the Bellmont squad the "Squaws."
Both teams have winning volleyball traditions. This will be the fourth year in a row and fifth in six years that Brebeuf will be appearing in the state championship event. They are the defending state champions in class 3A and also copped titles in 2003 and 2005. Bellmont won the first-ever state title hosted by Ball State in 2007 for their only state crown and 2010 will mark the fifth appearance in the state finals for the Squaws.
Both teams are sparked on offense by excellent junior setters. Bellmont's Steph Shoup, recently recognized as the statewide volleyball player of the week for her play in the sectional and regional (and continuing in the semi-state), has dished out 1,013 of the 1,276 Bellmont assists this year. Brebeuf counters with Natalie Wichern who has been no slouch in the setting department with 949.
Bellmont has not lost a match since being in the Warsaw Invitational on September 25 and on that day they ran into the Muncie Burris buzzsaw (the Owls finished 38-0 this year and are heavy favorites to win the class 2A title). The Squaws ran off three straight wins at Warsaw then after losing to Burris to start an end-of-the season run that saw Bellmont go 18-0 and claim yet another Northeast Hoosier Conference title (BHS hasn't lost a NHC match since 2005).
Brebeuf was in the Yorktown Invitational in late August and both of their defeats occurred there to Bishop Chatard and Yorktown. Bellmont was also in the Yorktown tourney but in a different bracket than Brebeuf. They also lost two matches that day to Indianapolis Roncalli and Yorktown.
In its 18-0 run to get to the state finals, Bellmont won every match by a 3-0 score with the exception of the semi-state final win over Yorktown 3-1. That's 54-1 if you're keeping score. During that same time frame, Brebeuf is 15-0 with a 45-6 game edge.
Bellmont's back row has a slight defensive edge led by libero Chelsea Colclasure and her 470 digs. The Squaws have 1,431 digs to date (Fuelling and Allison Gutierrez are next with 216 and 205). Madison Schultz has rejected 73.5 shots this year while Fuelling and Payton Schultz follow with 35 and 34 respectively.
Brebeuf has six players with more than 100 digs led by the 334 mark of Jadyn Yarling followed by White's 189 and 186 from Hillary Porter. White has contributed 80 blocks while Sierra Witham has 56 and Obeime has 53.
The two teams will play in the third match of the day with the official start time listed by the IHSAA as 5:30 p.m. although it will probably be closer to 6 p.m. since both the 1A and 2A finals are scheduled in front of the Bellmont-Brebeuf fray.