INDIANAPOLIS — Allison Dennemann saw her opening Sunday afternoon and went for it.
Charging the net while torquing back her arm through midair, the New Palestine Dragons’ all-time kills leader dropped the hammer one last time. As if to say farewell to her high school experience, Dennemann raised both arms and waved her hands subtly in celebration of her second-set point.
Members of the IHSVCA’s Class 3A/4A South All-Stars, Dennemann and Mt. Vernon’s Grace Hurst both wrapped up their prep careers inside Lawrence North’s Jack Keefer Gymnasium, and the final outcome mattered little.
“Going out there and playing with these girls from different schools, it was so much fun, even though we got crushed,” quipped Hurst, after the South All-Stars lost 25-19, 25-22. “There’s regrets from the season, sure, but you can’t really change anything. I love this. I think it’s a great opportunity for everybody.”
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For Hurst, a defensive specialist, the day was a chance to reflect and appreciate the past four years, culminating in being chosen as one of the state’s top 28 players in 3A and 4A.
Each player on the North and South All-Stars rosters — 14 for each team — had to pass a tryout to play Sunday. Hurst, who will continue her career at Southern Illinois University (Edwardsville), showed why she made the cut, diving and sliding across the floor with ease while flashing an occasional smile.
In her career at Mt. Vernon, Hurst racked up 1,215 digs, including 686 as a senior. While facing several NCAA Division I players in practice and for the best-of-three match, Hurst was right at home.
As was Dennemann, who is heading to the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. after graduation.
“When I got in I just tried to play my game and not worry about what it was,” Dennemann said. “It’s a fun thing what we’re doing, and that’s how I looked at it instead of putting pressure on myself.”
In the second set, Dennemann did what she does best, attacking the net with a trio of kills to keep the match close, though the North All-Stars eventually pulled away.
A Class 3A regional champion as a junior, Dennemann helped lead the Dragons to a final four appearance in 2016 and in 4A this past season, she delivered once again with 572 kills.
In her career, Dennemann finished with 2,184 kills through 413 sets, which included 700 as a junior.
Along with Hurst, the trip to Indianapolis under the all-star spotlight was Dennemann’s second as both were participants as juniors.
“I did this last year, but I want to say this year was better. I don’t know why, but it was,” Dennemann laughed. “It was cool.”
So was being on the same team as Hurst, Dennemann remarked, as the two county rivals put the past aside to enjoy the event with their new teammates, families and coaches.
“It’s a rivalry, but it’s a good rivalry almost. We work well together and it was fun to be on the same side of the net as her for once,” Hurst said. “We played together last year, too, on the same team. So it was a good experience to have with her.”
It closed a chapter in their lives as well, Hurst added, recalling the Marauders’ two 4A sectional title runs the past four seasons and the friendships she’s cherished while playing in Fortville.
“I’m so excited [about college], but it’s a bittersweet feeling. I’m nervous, but I’m very excited to be out on the court again with a whole new set of girls,” Hurst said. “My senior class we were so close, and it’s one of those things I brought with me through middle school and high school. Meridan Eads and I have actually been friends through the entire thing. It’s touching to know I was able to play with her one last time.”
Dennemann shared Hurst’s sentiments on the finality of the weekend.
“It’s weird. It’s kind of surreal, but it’s a good end, even though we lost,” Dennemann said.
New Palestine head coach Kelli Whitaker, who was in attendance for the festivities Sunday, knows Dennemann won’t be on the short end of matches much in the future.
“This was such a great opportunity for her and it was so much fun to watch. She’s playing with the best girls in the state and she played really well. I thought she passed nails out there. She looked really good,” Whitaker said. “It was the last time she had to represent New Pal as far as volleyball goes, but she has such a bright future ahead of her. I’m really excited and proud of her. She’ll do great things at Pacific.”