GEORGETOWN — Morgan Zindars remembers the seniors from past years and the encouragement they provided as the annual Vermilion County tournament drew near.
The veterans reminded everyone to pick up their play. "Lets do it," Zindars recalled hearing. "It’s our last chance to win the championship."
She listened, but admitted, "as a lower grade, I thought that was stupid."
Zindars is now a senior. She has not only changed her attitude about the urgings of those previous seniors, but she has also found herself telling teammates, "Lets do it. It’s our last chance to win the championship."
Zindars and three other senior regulars experienced the euphoria of celebrating a title on Monday as Armstrong-Potomac overpowered Salt Fork 25-21, 25-22 in the championship match at Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School.
The last time A-P captured the tournament crown, the current seniors were in kindergarten in 2001.
"Unbelievable," said Rachel Miles, another of the seniors. "I’m on an emotional high."
The Trojans started slow, falling behind the Storm 8-1 in the first set. A-P head coach Candy Franzen’s team forced seven ties before going ahead to stay, 21-20, on a kill by Makenzie Vinson.
"Nerves were in everyone’s system," said Macey Williams, who had a match-high 13 blocks. "The intensity of the game made the nerves go away."
Salt Fork (22-6) held leads in the second set before senior Courtney Hambleton’s kill broke a 9-9 tie and lifted A-P into a lead it didn’t relinquish.
"Our fan section really helped us," Zindars said.
Franzen saw two areas were the Trojans excelled against an opponent it had traded wins with in two previous meetings.
"We had the blocking game going and our defense was all over the court," Franzen said.
Senior libero Meghan Vinson was part of the stellar defensive effort, as were Abbie Stewart (14 digs), Makenzie Vinson (12 digs) and Zindars (10 digs).
"Amazing," said Zindars, who had a match-high 21 assists. "It’s like a dream come true."
Stewart served consecutive aces to account for the final two points of the opening set. In the decisive second set, the final three A-P points were scored on a block and two kills by Miles.
"When she gets going, the whole team is ready to roll," Franzen said.
A-P played for the Vermilion County championship for the second year in a row. Eight underclassmen were in uniform on Monday.
"I hope they’ll work as hard to get back to this point again," Franzen said.
Salt Fork was led by Allie Trosper with 12 assists, Jenny Kimbro with seven digs, Emilie McFadden with six kills and Britton Seamon with four blocks.
"We had the momentum early but went into a lull," Salt Fork coach Brent Bowman said.
Third-place match. Bismarck-Henning’s streak of consecutive championship-match appearances was ended at 11 and its title run was stopped at nine, but for the 10th year in a row, the Blue Devils won their final tournament match.
B-H (13-7) overcame deficits in each set to dispatch Oakwood 25-21, 25-23.
"They were so devastated Saturday (following a pool play loss to Salt Fork), but I was so happy the way they came back," Blue Devils coach Susan Kentner said. "They hustled on defense and their quickness was important."
Maddie Winkler had 19 assists for B-H. Lindsey Andrews had nine digs, five aces and two blocks. Three of Andrews’ aces came at the end of the first set, which B-H trailed 21-16 before registering nine unanswered points. An Andrews ace created a 21-21 tie and her next serve was an ace to give the team the lead for good.
Mary Bass had eight kills for the Blue Devils. Oakwood’s Peyton Jones had seven kills.
Fifth-place match. Westville swept its season series with Hoopeston Area, but all four sets between the schools were decided by the minimum two points. Thursday’s triumph came on 25-23, 25-23 decisions. In the first set, Hoopeston was the first team to reach five, 10 and 15 points.
To regroup, Westville coach Anne Picklesimer said, "takes a lot of confidence in yourself and a lot of confidence in your teammates.
This shows the kind of team we are, that we can push it hard and strong."
Morgan Gallion had eight assists to lead the Tigers (9-14). Lauren Barthalow had five kills, Mariah Rolinitis had nine digs and Alexa Kantout had two blocks.
The Cornjerkers were led by Shelby Holzinger with eight kills, Cayley Martin with seven and Haley Dixon with five.