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Griggs stands tall as Lafayette Jeff volleyball sweeps McCutcheon
October 19, 2012Lafayette Jefferson High School
In a game of giants, 5-foot-8 Jessica Griggs often looks up to teammates and opponents.
The Lafayette Jeff junior has an edge that makes her a must-have on the court, regardless of her height.
On Thursday, Griggs showed off her serving skills, firing seven aces and leading Lafayette Jeff to a 25-13, 25-15, 25-12 sweep of McCutcheon in the opening round of the Class 4A, Sectional 7 tournament at Resler Gymnasium.
“I feel like that definitely keeps me in the game, and I work really hard at (serving) because we have such a tall team,” Griggs said. “There’s not a lot of room for changes, so I really try to focus on that.”
The Bronchos avenged a regular-season loss to McCutcheon and advance to play Logansport, which beat Kokomo Thursday night, in Saturday’s semifinals.
Megan Isbell put down five of her match-high 10 kills in Game 1. Consecutive kills by Isbell, Carlie Hinkel’s block and Griggs’ ace ignited an 18-8 run to finish off the set.
The Bronchos finished the second set with six straight points, including two aces by Griggs. Griggs served three more aces during Lafayette Jeff’s 8-0 run after McCutcheon tied the score at 7-7 in Game 3. The Bronchos served 13 aces overall, including three by Auna McGaughey, two by Connor Garrity and one by Mekhila Treece.
Lafayette Jeff (18-16) had won just four of its last 10 matches entering the postseason. On Thursday, Connor Garrity’s 22 assists and five digs and four kills apiece from Kate Halliwell and McGaughey helped assure the Bronchos of finishing above .500.
“We had the bumps in the road and a lot of people lost faith in us, but we never lost faith in ourselves,” Isbell said. “We don’t need anyone else to believe in us as long as we believe in ourselves. Now we’re back in it, and we have fans who believe in us, too.
“We know we can win sectionals if we play this good every game.”
In an Aug. 30 match, McCutcheon outlasted the Bronchos 15-13 in a thrilling fifth game.
Lafayette Jeff kept that fresh in mind and wasted little time setting the tone on the Mavericks’ home floor Thursday night.
“Everyone wanted revenge, and beating them in sectionals, that’s been our biggest goal,” Isbell said. “That’s when we wanted to play our best. This evens out what happened with them in the regular season.”
Defending sectional champion McCutcheon was ousted but exited the gym Thursday with heads held high. The Mavericks struggled through a 9-22 season, but know better days are ahead.
McCutcheon loses seniors Taylor Baird, Aleea Barnett and Aimee Hahm, who was injured in the regular-season meeting against Lafayette Jeff. Thirteen of the 18 players on McCutcheon’s postseason roster were freshmen or sophomores, and the Mavericks had a first-year coaching staff this season.
Junior Mikayla Berning and sophomore Katee Kurtz each had five kills for the Mavericks. Sophomores Jordan Foster and Sydney Tracer combined for 25 digs. Sophomore Mersadie Spence came off the bench in Game 3 and provided four kills during a mini-run for McCutcheon.
“We figured out tonight between the team and coaching staff that we have one year of sectional experience,” Baird said. “This is a team that is going to be a powerhouse next year and the year after that. We’ve got the right people in the right positions, and the right coaching staff to make this a powerhouse team.”