Her team’s season having just ended, Franklin boys volleyball coach Sarah Records huddled with her seniors in front of the Grizzly Cubs’ bench.
Tears were shed, hugs were exchanged and words were spoken.
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Paired against No. 5 Cathedral in a quarterfinal match of the Indiana Boys Volleyball Coaches Association State Finals, Franklin saw its season come to an end with a 25-16, 25-23, 25-22 loss at venerable Southport Fieldhouse.
In terms of enthusiasm, noise and competition, the facility was filled to capacity. Much as the Grizzly Cubs wanted to make the semifinals for the third time in four seasons, the Irish were simply better.
“Tonight just wasn’t our night,” Records said. “I’m proud of the boys for what they did. It would have been really easy for us to throw in the towel and to give up on some of these sets when we were down early on.
“But they showed a lot of tenacity in fighting back and making it as close as they did. I appreciate everything they brought to the floor tonight. But we struggled with passing and to make some key plays when we needed to make them.”
Despite five kills from 6-foot-4 senior outside hitter A.J. Rice, Franklin led only twice in Game 1 — but that was early on by scores of 3-2 and 5-4. Still hanging tough at 10-all, the Cubs found themselves outscored 9-2 before regaining some brief momentum on a kill from Garrett Wood.
Trailing 19-11 in the second game, Franklin mounted a furious rally to pull to within two points (24-22). Cathedral iced it with a kill from 6-6 junior Ryan Kelley.
The third game provided a similar scenario. The Irish were ahead 20-16 and looking to close out the match when junior Nate Sellers’ kill started what were five consecutive Grizzly Cubs points.
Following a Cathedral timeout, the Irish rallied with a Kelley kill, a block of Tomy Sundheimer’s spike attempt and Kelley’s service ace that sealed the victory.
Cathedral (21-13), the defending state champion, returns to Southport Fieldhouse this morning to face top-ranked Carmel in one semifinal match at 11 a.m. The state championship match is scheduled for 4 p.m.
Franklin ends its season with a record of 23-4.
“All the credit to Cathedral. They came ready to go tonight. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have the answer,” Records said.
Her voice breaking, she added, “This group of seniors, I can’t even tell you what it means to me. This group of boys when I first started teaching was in the fourth grade with me. I have literally watched them grow through the years. It’s just an incredible group.”
Rice finished with 12 kills to lead the Grizzly Cubs.