BROOKVILLE and NORTHMONT — Following a four-set win over Miami East in the Division III district semifinals on Tuesday, Oct. 26, Preble Shawnee volleyball’s season came to an end with a loss in three sets to Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas on Saturday, Oct. 30.
“The young team that we are is what got us,” Shawnee coach Josh Evans said after the loss to McNicholas. “The nerves. The being scared to play a team that’s going to put hands on us. And they did. They blocked. They touched everything we tried to send across the net and we weren’t ready for that and it got in our in our heads and we got nervous because of it.”
The Arrows roster is full of players who have had limited tournament experience.
The Arrows fell behind early in each set as they bowed out in the district finals 25-15, 25-17, 25-10.
“That’s one of our norms is a slow start, so I didn’t think it was gonna be much of an issue,” Evans said.
Senior Carlyn George ended her career with an a 18 assist performance with seven digs.
Junior Harlee Howard led the team with 11 kills and 19 digs.
The district final appearance was the first for the program in more than two decades.
“One thing that I told the girls is this is still an accomplishment you should be proud of,” Evans said. “We did a lot of things. We made history still. I told him Yeah, it’s going to hurt, but still played great. We still had a great season and we still did big things that hasn’t been done in a long time.”
When the season begin Evans didn’t believe this year’s team could be as good as the one a year ago.
“I guess the best way I could put it into words is when I walked in, at the beginning of this year, I sat down and said there’s no way this team is going to be better than last year,” Evans said. “They proved me wrong within weeks. And this team is by far, way better than what I had last year. I am beyond proud of these girls.”
Earlier in the week, the Arrows moved on to the district finals with a win in four sets over Miami East, 18-25, 28-26, 25-20, 25-16.
The first set was a challenge for the Arrows as they fell into an early 10-4 hole and couldn’t climb out. Preble Shawnee closed the gap to as little as one point, 17-18, but the Vikings would win seven of the next eight points to win the first set 25-18.
“I think what it was is we’re a young team,” Evans said. “We really are. We have one senior. I think the nerves got to them in that first set. It’s been 21 years since we won a sectional. It’s been talked about. In a small little town, everything gets talked about. I think the nerves of having the chance to win got to us at the beginning of the first set, which led to making those small errors, because we typically don’t make those errors. We usually make smart decisions when it comes to hitting balls into the net or stuff like that.”
Miami East continued to push the Arrows in the second set, never letting Preble Shawnee lead by more than six points.
After the Arrows gained a 20-14 advantage, the Vikings went on a five-point run to make it 20-19, and Evans called a timeout.
“I just wanted them to calm down,” he said. “I didn’t want them to get in their heads that they just blew a lead. I wanted them to take a deep breath, get some water in them. Hopefully, you know, sit there and let’s make a good pass. Our offense – if we get a good pass, our offense is unbelievable, so I wanted the girls serve-receiving to calm down to get a pass.”
After the timeout, the Arrows gutted out the set to win it 28-26, never once let the Vikings get to set point.
“Coming into the second set, we knew, I told the girls, ‘This is where we decide if we’re gonna be average or we’re gonna be great. If we’re average, we’re just gonna roll over and let them win. If we’re gonna be great, we’ve got to go.’ And that’s when they started and they turned it on. Miami East battled us, served great on the second set too. We were able to overcome our little errors that we made and took the set, and the third and fourth set, we just put the throttle down.”
As Evans alluded to, the Arrows went on to win the third and fourth sets in a comfortable fashion to move on to the district finals.
Howard led the Arrows with 12 kills, followed by sophomore Kahlen Kulms and junior Cora Neihoff each with 10. Junior Liv Thompson led with 25 digs, followed by sophomore Korrie Woodard with 15 and Howard with 13, while George accounted for 32 assists.
Reach Braden Moles on Twitter @BradenMoles