MONTGOMERY — The Barr-Reeve Vikings have been here before.
The Vikings (37-2) will battle Lafayette Central Catholic (29-9) for the Class A volleyball state championship Saturday morning at Worthen Arena on the campus of Ball State University. Barr-Reeve has passed every test with flying colors this fall, but to win the program’s first state championship.
When the match kicks off it will be the Vikings’ fifth overall appearance in the Class A state championship. Barr-Reeve defeated Loogootee for the sectional championship, Tecumseh in the regional championship and Indianapolis Lutheran in the semistate championship.
“I feel that the girls are very focused and realize that they have one more match that they need to focus in on and stay composed,” said Barr-Reeve coach Amber DeCoursey. “We know that they are extremely athletic and a great serving team — they score a lot of their points on aggressive serves. They have a right side hitter, No. 6 (Cameron Onken) who appears to be their go-to girl — a left-handed hitter.”
In the regional championship match against Tecumseh at Kavanaugh Kourt, the Vikings came out with a sluggish start, but was able to win the first set 25-23 and win the next two sets easily. In the semistate championship Saturday night at Jack Butcher Arena, Barr-Reeve was back on its heels right away and lost the first set, 27-25 against Indianapolis Lutheran. The Vikings bounced back two in the next three sets — 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 — DeCoursey knows it will be imperative to start strong against Lafayette Central Catholic.
Senior Jenna Knepp will lead the Barr-Reeve offensive attack by setting up her hitters in advantageous scoring situations.
Knepp had 53 assists in the semistate victory over Lutheran and Hania Sisco added 24 kills and Tiara Kenney had 23.
“The girls have to come out focused and they have to be engaged on the floor,” DeCoursey said. “If a mistake is made, they have to bounce back and figure out how to get the next point. There isn’t going to be any room on Saturday to come out sluggish and to get behind by a couple points. We have to stay right there with them.”
Barr-Reeve has played in the 1998, 2001 and 2008 state finals. In 2009 they reached the state championship, but were eliminated in the first morning match and didn’t qualify for the evening final. The set up of the state finals is different. DeCoursey is in her 14th season as the Barr-Reeve coach after a successful basketball and volleyball career as a player.
“We are trying to get the girls ready from their past experiences,” DeCoursey said. “Yes, we are at the state finals, and yes, we still have a job to do and we still have another match to play. We are trying to focus and after we’ll be able to understand how special this is. In a sense they will still have a feeling of ‘we’re at the state finals.’ We need to keep them busy by doing what we’ve always done and keep doing what we’ve done to get to this point. Their routine at this point is very key — with school and with practice.”