It was going to be the season the Jay County High School volleyball team finally broke through and won the program’s first sectional in more than a decade.
All the pieces were in place.
It returned its top five players from last year in seniors Abby Wendel, Kylie Osborne and Ava Kunkler, and juniors Lizzy Schoenlein and Abby Barcus.
A fourth senior, Emilie Walter, and a host of other players — juniors Britlyn Dues, Alli Campbell, Katie Lyons, as well as sophomores Chloe Trissel and Kaelyn Weaver — were hoping to build off the most wins (24) in the two decades Fred Medler has coached the Patriots.
After a devasting loss to Homestead in the sectional semifinal last season, Jay County had its sights set on returning to the sectional championship match for the second time in three years.
That’s what I said to Jay County High School girls soccer coach Giles Laux moments after his Patriot squad lost to Yorktown in the sectional championship Saturday afternoon.
He had no words.
Hours later, again at Yorktown Sports Park, I stood between seniors Nathan Heitkamp and Colton Compton to speak with them about their heartbreaking defeat in penalty kicks to the Tigers in their sectional final.
“What’s going through your head right now?” I asked.
They had no words.
All three of them had to fight back emotion. Laux, whose team had won back-to-back sectional championships — Abby Champ coached it to the 2013 title — was able to hide behind his sunglasses. The others were not.
They just looked away.
Laux and I had to continue the interview a few minutes later.
[This is my column in the Oct. 8 issue of The Commercial Review.]
Jay County wasn’t supposed to win.
It was shut out in the season opener against Muncie Central, which had dismantled each of its three sectional foes — Jay County included — during the regular season.
After 40 minutes Wednesday at Yorktown Sports Park, the Class 2A Sectional 15 semifinal between the Jay County High School boys soccer team and the Muncie Central Bearcats was following the unofficial script.
Muncie Central scored 12 minutes into the game and was controlling the tempo, and Jay County spent the majority of its time in the defensive third of the field.
The Patriots’ chances came and went quickly, they weren’t able to sustain possession and before they knew it they were hurrying back on defense.
Opportunities for the Bearcats came in droves while the Patriots went almost a half hour without pressuring Muncie Central goalkeeper Tyler Wood.