FORTVILLE — After a fiercely competitive 3-2 win the night before, Mt. Vernon wasted little time securing a spot in the Sectional 38 championship Thursday against county and conference rival New Palestine.

Alaina Nelson won in straight sets as the 28th-ranked Marauders breezed past the Dragons 5-0 in one of two semifinals.

With the win, the Marauders will be in search of their third sectional title in as many years today against Greenfield-Central, which beat Eastern Hancock 4-1 in the other semifinal on Thursday.

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The Marauders (16-1) and Cougars will square off for the sectional championship at 5 p.m.

“I told the girls, whenever you’re playing New Palestine, it’s going to be a battle,” Mt. Vernon head coach Gabe Muterspaugh said. “They came out and were up three spots very early. If we played our tennis and kept it simple, (we would be OK).”

On Wednesday, Nelson defeated Pendleton Heights’ Sam Hammel, who beat her in straights sets earlier in the season, 6-4, 6-3 at No. 2 singles in a tight match. Thursday she was on fire, winning 6-0, 6-0 against Ivey Simmons.

At No. 1 singles, Cassie York, who lost one night prior, topped New Palestine’s Amelia Fleetwood 6-0, 6-1. Meanwhile, the Marauders’ Brianna Partin and Emily Annakin beat Lauren Hardebeck and Katie Settergren 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) at No. 1 doubles in the most competitive match of the evening.

“They played really well and were the more experienced team,” New Palestine head coach Des Evans said of the Marauders. “We led in three matches but couldn’t hold it. They (No. 1 doubles) were really upset, because it was so close.”

Also for Mt. Vernon, Olivia Spicer beat Dragons’ Lexi Miller 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3 singles while the No. 2 doubles team of Sophie Williams and Maeve McCafferty handled Cassie Willhelm and Josee King quickly, winning 6-3, 6-1.

Both Spicer and Williams and McCafferty are now 21-1 this season at their respective positions.

“It’s been fantastic, we have almost two wins every single night,” Muterspaugh said.

In the other semifinal, Greenfield-Central jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead before eventually advancing to the sectional championship over Eastern Hancock.

At No. 1 singles, Cougars’ Lindsey McCord beat Kayla Huff 6-3, 6-0 while Kate Henderson won 6-2, 6-1 at No. 2 singles over Royals’ Emiley Carlton.

In the longest match of the night, Kaleigh Stephenson of Greenfield-Central and Royals’ Taylor Kline battled back and forth before Stephenson pulled away and won 6-0, 3-6, 6-1.

And at No. 1 doubles, Cougars’ Sarah Hudson and Haidyn Goodwin lost to Channing Bearhope and Lexi McMahan 6-3, 0-6, 6-1 in another highly competitive match for Eastern Hancock’s lone win.

The No. 2 doubles team of Erin Wright and Aly Proper topped Olivia Scott and Erin McKeeman 6-3, 6-4 in a close match, too.

Mt. Vernon beat Pendleton Heights by a point to open the sectional Wednesday after completing a 14-1 regular season in which it climbed to a No. 3 ranking in District 4.

Last season, the Marauders beat New Palestine 4-1 for their second-straight sectional title. They are seeking their sixth in eight seasons today against Greenfield-Central, who advances to the sectional title after being bounced out of the first round last season.

“We talked about this since last season after the regional loss to Cathedral,” Muterspaugh said. “We said we wanted to be right back here tomorrow (Friday) with a chance to win it, go for a three-peat.

“It’s a testament to the girls’ hard work. I’m just the driver of the bus.”

Mt. Vernon Tennis Sectional Semifinals

Mt. Vernon 5, New Palestine 0

1S – Cassie York 6-0, 6-1 over Amelia Fleetwood

2S – Alaina Nelson 6-0, 6-0 over Ivey Simmons

3S – Olivia Spicer 6-1, 6-1 over Lexi Miller

1D – Emily Annakin/Brianna Partin 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) over Lauren Hardebeck/Kate Settergren

2D – Sophie Williams/Maeve McCafferty 6-3, 6-1 over Cassidy Wilheim/Josee King

Greenfield-Central 4, Eastern Hancock 1

1S – Lindsey McCord 6-3, 6-0 over Kayla Huff

2S – Kaitlin Henderson 6-2, 6-1 over Emiley Carlton

3S – Kaleigh Stephenson 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 over Taylor Kline

1D – Channing Bearhope/Lexi McMahan 6-3, 0-6, 6-1 over Sara Hudson/Haidyn Goodwin

2D – Alyson Proper/Erin Wright 6-3, 6-4 over Erin McKeeman/Olivia Scott

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Kris Mills is a sports reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 317-477-3230 or kmills@greenfieldreporter.com.