The Eastern Hancock volleyball team defeated Heritage Christian 25-22, 25-22, 25-18 to capture the first regional championship in school history Tuesday at Heritage Christian.
The Royals (28-9), who have yet to drop a set in the postseason, advanced to play Class 2A No. 2 Providence (33-4) today at 11 a.m. at the Forest Park semistate.
Here's the 2A semistate bracket for today from Forest Park, which is approximately three hours south of Hancock County, and northeast of Evansville. Also listed is the 2A semistate at Bremen. The semistate winners advance to next week's state finals at Ball State University in Muncie.
At Forest Park
Eastern Hancock vs. No. 2 Providence, 11 a.m.
No. 4 Eastern Greene (35-2) vs. No. 10 Cardinal Ritter (26-9), to follow
Adams Central (22-8) vs. Southwood (25-12), 11 a.m.
No. 1 Wapahani (30-4) vs. No. 7 Rochester (30-8), to follow
Eastern Hancock was led Tuesday in the regional by Frannie Stephenson (11 kills, nine digs), Jordian Eastes (22 assists, eight digs), Hannah Best (15 digs), Tori Bednarski (eight digs), Melissa Bedell (five kills, four blocks) and Lauren Harmon (three kills, four blocks).
Providence topped Southwestern (Hanover) 25-8, 25-12, 25-20 in its regional match Tuesday.
EH won its first and only sectional title since 1984 last Saturday by beating Northeastern.
The Royals began their season 5-5, but won 14 matches in a row from Sept. 6 to Oct. 2.
We'll have live updates of Eastern Hancock's volleyball match beginning at 11 a.m. Refresh your browser for updates.
Today, 10:30 a.m.
Fans are beginning to filter into the Forest Park gymnasium for today's first semifinal between unranked Eastern Hancock and No. 2 Providence. This has to be one of the larger Class 2A gyms in the state. Nice facility.
The Eastern Hancock team spent Friday evening at a hotel nearby, although a battery issue with the bus caused a delay in their arrival last night.
An EH fan bus left from Charlottesville at 6:15 this morning. With the public-school Royals facing Our Lady of Providence, the EH fans outnumber their opponents' crowd today. But, Providence has also brought a large contigent, complete with a student section in funky body paint and wigs already leading cheers with the Providence parents, most of whom are wearing matching T-shirts. Should be a spirited game, if it's competitive.
EH's starting lineup today is expected to be MB Emily Jeffries, DS Tori Bednarski, DS Lytia Vanderpool, S Jordian Eastes, MB Lauren Harmon and OH Frannie Stephenson, with Hannah Best at libero. Best and Harmon, juniors, are the Royals' only non-senior starter, while Providence's entire roster includes just one senior.
Providence starters: Libero Kylie Flanagan , OH Maddie Bivens, MH Taylor Wilson, OH Jacquie Hornung, S Patricia Mattingly, MH Maile Daniel, OH Haley Libs.
Providence take Set 1 25-19. Lots of depth on the Pioneers' side of the net. Tall and athletic at all positions. EH stayed in it early with great serving and defense. Harmon and Bedell also big for the Royals with four combined kills, as the Providence defensive strategy is focused on keeping Stephenson, EH's leading hitter this season, in check. Stephenson was held to one kill. EH led 9-8, then Pioneers slowly pulled away, leading by as much as 22-15.
Sophomore OH Libs had seven kills for Providence, in sync with soph setter Mattingly (12 assists). Going to be hearing alot about this Providence squad next few years.
Wow. What a great second set, 26-24 win by the Royals to even things up. Eastern Hancock trailed 13-7, 18-13, 21-18 and 23-19 but refused to quit. Stephenson huge for EH with eight kills. Harmon had four kills and Eastes had 11 assists. Bednarski and Best with 15 digs.
Providence now leads the best-of-five match 25-19, 24-26, 25-13 after this Set 3 win.
Might have been a bit of an emotional letdown for the Royals after the big Set 2 rally. Providence led 8-7 in this one, then grabbed eight of the next nine points to take control.
Sophomores Wilson and Hornung combined for six kills for Pioneers.
12:40 p.m. FINAL
Providence defeats Eastern Hancock 25-19, 24-26, 25-13, 25-8.
Wilson five kills for Providence.
Final stat leaders for the match:
Eastern Hancock — Bednarski 13 digs, Stephenson 13 kills, Bedell six kills, Harmon nine kills, Best 14 digs, Eastes 19 assists.
Providence — Flanagan 14 digs, Wilson 15 kills, Hornung eight kills, Mattingly 36 assists/six aces, Libs 19 kills.
Providence coach Terri Puriciha — "We knew how capable Eastern Hancock was, but I've got a really young team and they're a basket of nerves sometimes and that was definitely the case (in the first two sets). They made a lot of uncharecterestic hitting errors, just kind of sloppy. But, a lot of that can be attributed to what (Eastern Hancock) was doing. They're a good team."
"If we play scared, we have no chance tonight. But, if we come out aggressive, we can play with anybody."
Eastern Hancock coach Mike Eastes — "Providence is a good team. We didn't get any help from the officials, that's for sure. They had several bad calls. One (Providence) girl was in the net probably five times and not one time was it called. And they had the libero setting from in front of the 10-foot line, which is a no-no. And she did it three times. Once that happened, we kind of got down. And you can't get down to a team like that, they're too good."
"The girls played their hearts out, like they have all year. That's all I can ask of them."
Thanks for following along today. I'm headed out to make the long journey back to Hancock County. Right now, Eastern Greene leads Ritter 25-20, 25-21 after two sets of the second semifinal here at Forest Park. The championship is at 7 p.m.
Check www.ihsaa.org for complete semistate results from across the state.