By GREG MENGELT
Silver Creek had 22 services aces and opened Class 3A Corydon Central Sectional play with a 25-14, 25-19, 25-10 victory over North Harrison on Tuesday.
The Dragons (20-13) will face the host Panthers in Saturday’s first sectional semifinal at 11 a.m.
“I definitely think we played hard and had fun and did what we needed to do,” Silver Creek senior middle hitter Haley Garr said. “So we’re ready for Saturday.”
After a 3-3 tie early in the first set, a Garr service ace — her first of a match-high six — gave the Dragons the lead for good. The advantage reached 11-4 when Kaitlyn Ramser served back-to-back aces, and Garr had another late first-set ace to give Creek a 23-13 lead.
Eight different Dragons had at least one ace on the night. Six of those finished with at least two, including Sammi Smith, who had four, and Ramser and Morgan Reining, who served three apiece.
“I think when our serving is on, our whole game is on,” Garr said. “I think serving tells whether we’re going to have a good game. I think definitely tonight we served well and it’s definitely the best I’ve served in the season. I’m happy with that.”
“That’s kind of our thing. If we serve well, we’re pretty competitive,” Dragon coach Jeff Zimmerman said. “If we have an off-night serving, it makes it tough on us.”
In the second set, Silver Creek jumped out to a 4-2 lead when Smith had three straight aces. However, North Harrison went on an 8-2 run to take a 10-6 lead, prompting a Zimmerman timeout.
A Garr ace and back-to-back kills by Danni Densford and Liz Mann pulled the Dragons within 11-10. But the Lady Cats were able to push the advantage back to 16-13 after three more Silver Creek errors.
Silver Creek then went on a 4-1 run on a Densford kill, a Brynn Ware ace and two kills by Reining.
The Dragons finally took the second-set lead for good at 18-17 after back-to-back Reining kills. Reining followed with consecutive aces — the second which hit the net twice and fell over — and Silver Creek had an insurmountable lead at 22-18.
“We had a lot of attacking errors, and we just had to clean up our errors,” Garr said of the second set. “Once we got back there and started serving some aces, it started to boost our momentum.”
“I think we were just a little lax in the second set,” Zimmerman said. “Any team’s going to be competitive if you can’t put the ball in play. Maybe we were a little overconfident.”
The third set was all Creek from the start. An ace from Kendra Kirchgessner and another Reining kill gave the Dragons a 4-0 lead. The Dragons had 10 kills in the final set, including one from Garr to close out the Cats.
Garr led the Dragons’ balanced offensive attack with eight kills. Reining and Densford had six apiece, Mann and Ramser finished with four. Eight different Dragons had at least one kill.
“It keeps the other team guessing,” Zimmerman said. “A lot of people think we’re all Haley Garr, but we have a lot of weapons. We have Haley Garr, but we think this is the best supporting cast she’s had. It is nice.”
Despite an easy 25-8, 25-9, 25-17 sweep of Corydon Central just a week ago, the Dragons say they expect the Panthers’ best shot in Saturday’s semifinal.
“You can never be overconfident,” Garr said. “We can’t take Corydon lightly. They’re a good team. They have good players. You always have to expect a good effort from everybody. We’ll be ready.”
“We know Corydon is a lot better than what they showed us,” Zimmerman said.
CLASS 3A CORYDON SECTIONAL
SILVER CREEK 25 25 25
N. HARRISON 14 19 10
Kills — Silver Creek 28 (Haley Garr 8); North Harrison 13 (Jill Book 4).
Blocks — Silver Creek 4 (Danni Densford 2); North Harrison 1 (Carlie Burson).
Assists — Silver Creek 23 (Sammi Smith 13); North Harrison 6 (Book 5).
Aces — Silver Creek 22 (Garr 6); North Harrison 2 (Book, Brooke Lamon).
Digs — Silver Creek 29 (Alex Carton 6).