ELWOOD —On their way to a fifth consecutive Madison County volleyball title, the Pendleton Heights Arabians put down an impressive set of numbers.

Throughout two days of play and four opponents, the Arabians never lost a set.

“When you have a target on your back, everyone comes to play, and they want to beat you,” coach Blair Barksdale said. “You still have to show up, play clean, serve aggressive and take care of the ball on your side. I thought we did that today.”

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The two-set win over a determined Frankton (16-2) team in the title match on Saturday, Sept. 10, wasn’t a breeze, but the Arabians never doubted their own abilities. In the first set, after an 8-8 tie, the Arabians went on a scoring rally, jumping ahead to 13-8, but the Eagles tried to whittle away at the lead but never got closer than four points when the Arabians led 14-10.

With kill leaders Hannah Grile and Mikala Ross on the floor, the Eagles attempted to shut down Ross, but opened the door for Grile to pound away.

The Arabians took the first set 25-19.

“We played them earlier in the week and played well and won easily, but we knew coming in today, they’d play hard, so we had to show up with our best,” Ross said. “We know we can be the better team. We just have to push.”

In the second set, Frankton righted their mistakes from the first set and led consistently throughout the game. After dropping three straight points with the score at 8-12, Barksdale called a timeout.

After the timeout, the Arabians worked to close the gap, but when they are down 10-13, the Eagles put on the pressure and extended the lead to five. When the Arabians found themselves in a corner once again with Frankton leading 18-13, the possibility of going to a third set became real.

Once again, the Arabians regrouped and closed the gap to 18-16. Both teams continued to answer the other’s charges. When the Arabians tied the score at 20-20, an ace by Kate Phillips put the Arabians ever closer to another title. A block by Whitney Warfel and another kill by Grile got the Arabians to a 23-21 lead.

Frankton pulled within one on an Arabians error, but Tessa’s Hannon’s kill point gave the Arabians a 24-22 lead and serving a match point. Frankton’s return went out, and the Arabians headed for center court for the trophy presentation.

“They were up by five in that second set. We never panicked. We stayed very focused. I think that confidence factor helps up,” Barksdale said. “We’ve been here before and a solid senior class that allowed us to chip away at them.”

Barksdale knew that despite their easy win (25-8, 25-14) over the Eagles in Thursday’s pool play, Frankton would come ready to compete. “Today, they competed and didn’t have as many forced errors.”

In addition to Franklin, the Arabians defeated Liberty Christian (25-7, 25-8) on Thursday, Sept. 8, in pool play. On Saturday, before the title match, they defeated Alexandria-Monroe 25-15, 25-13 and Lapel 25-16, 25-14.

The Arabians travel to New Palestine today, Thursday, Sept. 15, and play host to Fishers Sept. 19.


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