After being humbled in the first game of the Class 4A Logansport Sectional finals by county rival Harrison, McCutcheon players huddled and vowed they would turn the match around.
McCutcheon outplayed the taller Raiders during the next three games to capture a 19-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-23 victory Saturday night. The sectional win, the 17th for the school overall, ended Harrison’s reign.
The Raiders (20-12) came into the match having won five out of the last six sectional titles. McCutcheon’s victory also avenged a four-game loss to Harrison in Hoosier Crossroads Conference play this year.
The Mavericks (14-19) will now face No. 1 Carmel at Resler Gymnasium on Tuesday in regional play.
“We knew we just had to step it up from the first game,” said setter Jordan Foster, whose dink in Game 4 clinched the contest. “I thought we worked so hard and we wanted it more. I think they thought they had it won (after the first game) but we surprised them.”
Harrison never trailed in the first game, handily scoring the set’s first five points while expanding its lead to eight twice behind the big hitting of Brynn Roy, Ariel Murawski and Kiley Banker. McCutcheon rallied late in the game, cutting the lead in half before Murawski’s kill gave the Raiders a 25-19 win.
The Raiders seemed ready to go on a similar run in the second game, reeling off five straight points for a 10-7 lead before McCutcheon started to dig deep. It started with defense, when the Mavericks back line, led by Payton Taylor and Foster, started to consistently pick up Harrison’s hard spikes.
Taylor finished the game with 26 digs, while Foster added another 18.
“Our defense started to pick up everything,” said Sydney Tracer, who helped lead McCutcheon back on offense. “I was so proud of them. We started to figure out where they were hitting the ball and shut those areas down, and we executed great down the stretch.”
McCutcheon closed out the second game with a 6-2 run, and the Mavericks were back in the contest.
“We’re traditionally a good serving team and we didn’t serve so well the latter part of the match,” Harrison coach Lindsay Charles said. “We didn’t pick up on deep tips and we weren’t able to push our middles as much as we would have liked.”
The two teams slugged it out in a tight Game 3, but a Harrison hitting error and a Jade Humphrey kill gave McCutcheon a 26-24 win.
By Game 4, the Mavericks were in control, racing out to a 15-7 lead. Katee Kurtz led McCutcheon with nine kills, while Humphrey added seven kills and seven service aces. Dailey Vanderkolk had three service aces in Game 4 alone.
But Harrison charged back, with Roy getting four kills in the stretch, as the Raiders tied the game at 22. A Raider serving error and a Kurtz ace gave the Mavericks a two-point led.
A Banker kill cut the lead to one before Foster’s dink ended the contest.
“I brought in the newspaper clipping from two years ago when we won,” McCutcheon first-year coach Sara Sutter said. “I told them this could be you tonight. We trusted each other. I told them if they wanted to do this they could so go out there and make a difference and they did. It was nothing particular I did but them wanting it.”