The Avon High School volleyball team is like a collage on the court: a blur of numbers in matching uniforms seemingly everywhere at once.
In Tuesday’s regional at Perry Meridian, the Orioles were the portrait of a champion. It seemed wherever the ball went, there was an Avon player waiting, as they swept the host Falcons 25-16, 27-25, 25-11.
Class 4A No. 2 Avon will face the regional winner between No. 6 Floyd Central and No. 13 Castle in Saturday’s Seymour Semistate semifinal following an 11 a.m. semifinal match between the Chatard/New Castle regional winner and the Center Grove/Columbus East winner. The semistate championship match is set for 7 p.m.
The Orioles got contributions from all around Tuesday, whether it was Shelby Connors, Lindsay Thompson or Rachel Griffin making a block at the net; Beth Prince, Bekah Strange or Calle Weddle getting a kill on a shot set up by Griffin; or Brooke Peters digging out a Perry spike.
Prince finished with a team-high 15 kills; Peters and Strange each had nine digs and Griffin 38 assists.
“My gosh, they have enough offense to satisfy any Division I college team,” said Perry Meridian coach Pat Carlson. “But when they play defense (too), they don’t get rattled. There’s a reason they’re the defending state champions.”
The Orioles trailed the No. 11 Falcons in all three sets, but found ways to pull out each with a collective effort.
Perry took a 6-4 lead in the third set before Avon erupted with a 16-2 run to all but finish off the Falcons.
“I was telling the girls on the bus on the way here that I never doubt them,” said Griffin, an Indiana State recruit. “We could be down nine points and I never worry. We went out there and showed them we never give up, no matter how close it gets.”
Perry had the home crowd behind it as the Falcons soared to a 14-11 lead in the first set, but the Orioles closed strong, capping an 11-5 run with a thunderous spike from the 6-3 Prince to close the set.
The second set went back-and-forth with 19 ties and 20 lead changes. Perry forced an extended set when it tied the score at 24, then had a chance to win leading 25-24, but a kill by Thompson and back-to-back aces by Strange gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead.
Last year’s state championship experience was a factor in the Orioles’ ability to pull out that set, said Avon coach Scott McQueen.
“When it was 25-24 them, I was like, ‘Maybe I should call a timeout,’ but I trusted them and I didn’t want the crowd to go more bonkers than they already were,” McQueen said. “They did a great job of pulling through and keeping their composure. We’ve been through that a whole lot of times. I thought it was key.”