New Albany’s Allyson Cathey attempts a kills against Jeffersonville in the teams’ sectional opener.
JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. — Rivals New Albany and Floyd Central — the two favorites in the Class 4A Jeffersonville Volleyball Sectional — collected comfortable wins Thursday night and will collide in Saturday morning’s semifinal.
New Albany swept host Jeffersonville 25-18, 25-14, 25-19, and then Floyd Central beat Bedford North Lawrence 25-15, 25-18, 25-17.
The Bulldogs (25-9) and Highlanders (21-12) will play at 11 a.m., followed by Jennings County (8-20) against Seymour (18-13). The championship is set for 7 p.m. During the regular season, Floyd Central and New Albany split two matches, each winning on its home floor.
New Albany-Jeff: The Bulldogs pulled away midway through the first set and breezed past the Red Devils. Still, New Albany coach John Breeding said his team wasn’t hitting on all cylinders.
“We were playing in spurts,” Breeding said. “We lost focus and they did some good things. They served the ball well.”
Breeding said the Bulldogs must play better in the semifinals.
Jeff kept battling and only trailed 19-18 before New Albany scored the last six points of the first set, capped by a kill from Sadie Meyer. In the second set, New Albany again finished with a flurry and scored seven of the last eight points.
In the third, the Bulldogs appeared ready to cruise, leading 15-5. Then the Red Devils came roaring back, highlighted by three straight serving aces from Megan Gallagher. Jeff tied the match at 18-18 on a kill by Alexis Bassett.
The Bulldogs then regrouped and scored seven of the final eight points.
“We called a timeout and said, ‘Pass the ball and finish,’” Breeding said. “It was simple as that.”
Maddy Weber, who is headed to Northern Kentucky University to play volleyball next fall, led New Albany with 16 kills. Allyson Cathey, a Western Kentucky University commit, added 13 kills. Meyer handed out 33 assists.
Liz Laythe, Jeff’s first-year coach, said he couldn’t be happier with the progress of her program and pointed to her seniors as the main reason. The Red Devils finished 11-18.
“When we’re winning sectionals in five years, it started with them,” Laythe said. “It’s not about me.”
Floyd Central coach Bart Powell instructs Taylor Hodges in the Highlanders’ first-round matchup Thursday.
Floyd Central-BNL: The Highlanders breezed past the Stars (21-13), but coach Bart Powell said his team wasn’t sharp.
“We played OK tonight but serve-receive was nowhere it’s been,” Powell said. “A lot of it was nerves, and we got the big lead in the last set and let off the gas.”
Against New Albany, Powell said they can’t let Cathey get on a roll.
“I expect to play a little bit better Saturday,” Powell said. “We’ll have to or we’ll go home.”
Juniors Molly Ottersbach and Alexis Smith led the Highlanders with nine and eight kills, respectively.