By Noah Dalton
HENRYVILLE – Mitchell High School began their sectional campaign on Thursday, beating their opening-round opponent, Clarksville, 3-0 to advance.
The Bluejackets handled the Generals, winning in convincing fashion 25-9 in the first set, 25-10 in the second and closing with a 25-5 win in the third.
“Looking at their record and who they’ve played, I figured we should be the favorite. Sometimes, coming into those games you can be a little bit sloppy and I didn’t want us to be sloppy and I think for the most part we were pretty clean,” said Mitchell head coach Scott Saunders.
The Bluejackets racked up 38 kills across the three sets, with Jocelyn Allen leading the way with 12 to go along with her team-high six aces. Behind her were Brooke Reynolds and Jillian Bond, who each added seven kills and Jayden Allen, who added six. Reynolds and Gracyn Thompson each tallied a block in the victory.
“What I liked was that, no matter what the score was, we just played,” Saunders said. “We had kids diving on the floor at 20-3 here, so that was clean. That’s what we wanted. I told the kids before we started, sometimes the regular season has some bordem moments, but come tournament time there are no bordem moments. You have to play it out all the time, and I felt like we did a really good job of that tonight.”
On Saturday, Mitchell will return to Henryville to face Austin (14-16), who advanced with a 3-1 win over Eastern Pekin in the second round. The winner of that matchup will advance to the finals to meet either Brownstown-Central (19-13) or Paoli (26-6).
Should the Bluejackets make the finals, either potential matchup would be a rematch from earlier in the season. Mitchell faced Paoli on August 17, defeating the Rams 3-1. They battled the Braves in tournament play later that month, August 26, losing 2-0.
“They’re a little bit like Clarksville, but better. They do some solid things. They put up a pretty big block, so you know we’ll have to let me clean. I think if we handle the ball and serve well, I think we’ll be in pretty good shape on Saturday morning,” Saunders said regarding the second round matchup against Austin.
“I’m gonna take them one at a time. I tell the kids, we’re not coming here to play for a sectional championship. We’re coming here to win the next point. And if we do that, and win enough of those, we’ll chance to win sectional. Saturday is going to be a fun day, that’s what we want. We’ve got to play hard against Austin and take care of business. Then we’ll see who comes out of that other game, whether it’s Brownstown or Paoli but we’ll get in early and watch both of them and see what’s out there.”