BELLEVUE – In the first MHSAA regional final match for Athens since 2013, the Indians saw their season come to end in a three-set loss to No. 2-ranked Mendon on Thursday at Bellevue High School.
Although the scores didn’t show it, it was a tight match as both teams played well defensively. Each game was packed with intensity, and each school traveled with enthusiastic student sections.
The first game was action-packed, both teams attacking hard with some quick-hitting volleys. It was neck-and-neck for most of the opening game as Athens led for most of it until surrendering the lead at 19-20, and eventually the game, 22-25.
The Indians battled through some early mistakes in the second game, and grabbed the lead. The momentum shifted after a long volley that ended in a center-line infraction committed by Athens. The Indians couldn’t get the important sideout in time, and dropped the second game 16-25.
It was all Mendon in the third set, until Athens’ front row sparked a rally that caused a Hornets timeout as the Indians fought to bring the deficit to 9-13. After the break, it was an exciting game that saw plenty of long volleys. Despite the rush from Athens, Mendon won the close game 25-22.
“Our defense was on, our serve receive did a great job,” said Athens head coach Jacy Cole. “There were a couple moments when we were floundering a little bit because of some errors, but we fought right back and never gave up.”
Leading the way for Athens was Josie Lamson with one ace, 18 assists and 14 digs; Tayler Eutsey with three kills, 14 digs and one block; Rachel Nobach had two aces, 12 kills and 15 digs; Aubrey Cole added two aces and 21 digs; and Lexi Goss had four kills, two digs and six blocks.
“Obviously our goal was to go to states, and we’ve worked so hard all season to get to this point, and I’m just so proud of them,” said Cole, “I don’t think we gave up at all tonight and fought extremely hard.”
The Indians’ ended the season with an overall record of 27-19-7.
Mendon advances to play Plymouth Christian in the quarterfinal on Tuesday at Climax-Scotts High School.