FORTVILLE — Before the season began nearly two months ago, Mt. Vernon senior Brianna Partin made a bold prediction.
The girls tennis team’s unofficial “fortune teller,” head coach Gabe Muterspaugh playfully calls her, spoiled the big reveal.
“Bri told everyone this is going to be a special season,” Muterspaugh recalled. “You know what, she was right.”
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With the threat of a potential letdown lingering, the 28th-ranked Marauders put doubt to rest Friday, defeating Greenfield-Central 5-0 to win their third straight sectional championship and sixth in eight years.
The 5-0 victory was Mt. Vernon’s seventh in eight duals and 12th this season.
“Winning three is extremely hard to do,” Muterspaugh said. “This is the 20th year for me, so I’ve been through a lot of hard losses, knowing when you win one, you think you’re going to get a second one and you don’t see a second one for five years. To put three in a row is unbelievably hard. I’m really proud of these girls.”
As they’ve been all year, the Marauders were efficient in their sectional championship quest. On Wednesday, they plowed through their biggest obstacle in Pendleton Heights 3-2 in the quarterfinals.
Already winning 5-0 against the remaining sectional field, Mt. Vernon had to stay within themselves to finish the job, and they did with a flawless 10-0 effort.
“I knew it was going to be a little tougher this year with Pendleton in our sectional, so I’m really happy we pulled that out on Wednesday and it was smooth sailing from there,” Mt. Vernon senior Cassie York said. “I remember being a freshman and watching how awful it was when we lost sectional that year. I knew I did not want that to happen my senior year.”
The Marauders defeated New Palestine 5-0 in the semifinals Thursday and followed with only four games surrendered against Greenfield-Central in the sectional finals.
York (18-5) won at No. 1 singles 6-1, 6-0. Quarterfinal’s hero sophomore Alaina Nelson (21-3) went 6-0, 6-1 at No. 2 singles, and sophomore Olivia Spicer improved to 23-1 on the year with a fast 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 3 singles.
“We’ve spoken about taking on the mentality of ‘refuse to lose,’ and we as coaches need to set the tone. We never expect to lose and we don’t want to lose,” Muterspaugh said. “We have the hearts of champions and the girls showed it this week.”
Partin and junior Emily Annakin (18-6) swept to a 6-0, 6-0 sectional finale at No. 1 doubles while Sophie Williams and Maeve McCafferty won 6-0, 6-2 for their 23rd victory at two doubles.
The Marauders (17-1) had lost only one dual all year to No. 11 Delta on April 20. Prior to the loss, they won four duals. Afterward, they ran off 13 straight, including a stretch of 35 consecutive matches.
“Every match has all been leading up to this,” Partin said. “I’m so excited for regional and no matter what comes out of it, I know that we’ve had an amazing season.”
The next step is a familiar one for the Marauders, who move on to the North Central Regional. Last year, at 16-2 they defeated Lawrence North 3-2 in the semifinals before getting tripped up by Cathedral to finish 17-3.
They will face the Wildcats (9-5) again at 4 p.m. Tuesday. No. 17 Hamilton Southeastern and No. 3 Cathedral will play in the other regional semifinal.
“We’re excited to go to North Central. We want to put the pressure on them. There’s no pressure on us,” Muterspaugh said. “We’re going there to win and then probably lose to the eventual state champ in Cathedral, but I’m okay with that. We’re going up there to give them hell.”
This time they’re also going ranked in the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association’s top 30 poll, the first for the program since 2004.
“We always talk about closing that gap with the North Centrals of the world. We’re closing the gap out here. It’s been a long process, but this is a lot of fun,” Muterspaugh said. “I like winning. I don’t want it to stop.”
Mt. Vernon 5, Greenfield-Central 0
No. 1 singles: Cassie York (MV) def. Lindsey McCord (GC), 6-1, 6-0
No. 2 singles: Alaina Nelson (MV) def. Kaitlin Henderson (GC), 6-0, 6-1
No. 3 singles: Olivia Spicer (MV) def. Kaleigh Stephenson (GC), 6-0, 6-0
No. 1 doubles: Emily Annakin/Brianna Partin (MV) def. Sara Hudson/Haidyn Goodwin (GC), 6-0, 6-0
No. 2 doubles: Sophie Williams/Maeve McCafferty (MV) def. Alyson Proper/Erin Wright (GC), 6-0, 6-2