Union County’s Carlea Handley hits the ball as Providence’s Taylor Wilson attempts to block Saturday at the Class 2A semistate at Forest Park.
FERDINAND, Ind. – Three of four years, Carlea Handley and Bella Pavey reached semistate.
That’s the destination where the Union County standouts ended their Patriot careers Saturday, with a whole lot of success to look back on.
Defending Class 2A state champion Providence powered past the Patriots in three at Forest Park, putting an end to another stellar volleyball season at Union County.
“It’s definitely been really fun,” Pavey said. “I’m thankful for all the girls on our team. We all clicked. I wouldn’t have wanted any other group of girls to make my senior year this memorable.”
The Patriots repeated as sectional and regional champs as they advanced to their third semistate in four seasons.
They swept every team they faced in the postseason, too, until running into a buzzsaw in the powerful Pioneers.
Providence’s Audrey Shannon served her team to a 5-0 lead in Game 1, and the Pioneers never looked back.
“If there is any team to lose to, this is the team to lose to,” said UC coach Chris Wiederhold. “They are an outstanding team, at any level.
“They do almost everything right. They don’t make many mistakes.”
Top-ranked Providence swept 25-7, 25-8, 25-16 on the way to a finals showdown with Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter, which won in five against Perry Central in Saturday’s first semifinal. Providence won the semistate championship 25-12, 25-6, 25-23.
“It was definitely a big step in going from a little regional gym into this big gym, having all the fans from every school come,” Handley said. “It’s crazy to see how many people still from our county come. It’s good appreciation.”
Union County has a well-earned reputation when it comes to volleyball.
The Patriots were playing in a seventh semistate. They finished 24-11 and won a third consecutive Tri-Eastern Conference title and back-to-back sectional championships.
“For us, being a 2A school from a tiny town, it means so much, because people just overlook us,” Pavey said.
“I think we were way more prepared than we have been the last two times I’ve been to semistate, but I just don’t think we had answers for what they gave us.”
Added Handley: “They are one of the best teams we’ve been around lately, definitely.”
Handley and Pavey both had aces against the Pioneers, while Pavey added 15 assists.
Allison Kassens had six kills and 10 digs, and Handley also finished with six kills.
“They were very good,” Kassens said of the Pioneers. “We came in and we were ready to play. … I think we can do very well next year and the following year after that when the 2016 class leaves. The program will still continue on.”
Pavey, Handley and Jade Brown graduate, but the Patriots have several key players returning for 2015.
Union County’s semistate roster included sophomore Ella Dils and freshmen Madison Rosenberger and Quinn Stephens, along with juniors Kassens, Danielle Hill, Bailey Jenkins, Micaila Rosenberger, Lauren Lester and Sydney Bradford.
“It’s an outstanding achievement for this program to continue the legacy (former coach) Jenny Moster started 20 years ago,” Wiederhold said. “I’m very proud of them.”