Ready for round 2: Marauders advance with sectional win

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FORTVILLE — Down 1-4 in the first set, Mt. Vernon’s senior captains did what they were supposed to do.

With sectional championship aspirations, the No. 1 doubles duo of Peyton Meadors and Braeden Browning roared back from a big early deficit, rallying to win five straight games on the way to topping Pendleton Heights’ Caleb King and Jackson McKinney 6-4, 7-5.

The win was one of four for the Marauders, who advanced to tonight’s tennis sectional semifinal match against Greenfield-Central by topping the Arabians, 4-1.

“Big time,” Mt. Vernon coach Gabe Muterspaugh said of Browning and Meadors. “Those are my two captains. They’re best buddies. These guys, they want a sectional championship, and you know what, if we don’t get past tonight, there’s no chance.”

Getting past Pendleton Heights wasn’t as easy as the 4-1 score or two-set victories necessarily showed. The Arabians battled the Marauders for every point, knowing it was a win-or-go-home match.

“Sectional is a different monster. The pressure is higher. Every point matters,” Muterspaugh said. “Pendleton is a good team. They’ve improved a lot, and I knew it was going to be a dog fight. I’m very pleased with our guys’ mental toughness tonight. Big points, we got the big points.”

The Marauders started slow at several positions, including at the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles positions.

But while some positions were struggling, Chris Hays, at No. 2 singles, was not one of them.

“For Chris Hays, who didn’t play in the first match (against Pendleton) this year, to come out and beat that solid, solid two singles from Pendleton, was a huge win, too,” Muterspaugh said. “He set the tone early.”

Hays, a sophomore, picked up a 6-3, 6-4 win against Arabians senior Seth Moore.

The Marauders other points came from Sam McCarty at No. 3 singles, a 6-1, 6-4 winner against Pendleton Heights junior Caleb Alumbaugh, and from the No. 2 doubles duo of Jackson Dunlavy and Sam Frye, 7-5, 6-2 winners against Evan Bobb and Nick Vetor.

Mt. Vernon’s one loss came at No. 1 singles, where the Arabians’ Walker Stull beat J.D. Cohee 6-2, 6-1.

Up next is tonight’s semifinal round, with Eastern Hancock facing New Palestine and Mt. Vernon taking on Greenfield-Central.

Getting past Pendleton Heights, and doing so in less than 90 minutes, gives the Marauders a boost heading into tonight’s county rivalry match, with a spot in the sectional finals on the line.

“It’s huge,” Muterspaugh said. “I’m very proud of them, and now we can bounce back and get after Greenfield and send them home, too.”