The Hamilton Southeastern High School volleyball team had only one senior, but the Royals boasted a powerful junior unit.
“It was a heavy junior class and it’s probably the most talented class maybe the state has ever seen in terms of seven juniors, all have Division I opportunities,” Hamilton Southeastern coach Jason Young said. “
The Class 4A No. 1 Hamilton Southeastern topped No. 2 Yorktown 25-17, 13-25, 25-23, 25-18 in the Nov. 5 IHSAA state championship match at Muncie. It was the Royals’ first state title in volleyball.
The Royals (34-1) lost only nine sets all season. They opened the season with a loss to defending Class 4A state champion McCutcheon and then won the rest of their games.
“We made some lineup changes after that loss, and that helped catapult us over the top,” Young said. “It was a tough loss but one we learned a lot from.”
The Royals later avenged the loss to McCutcheon by sweeping all three sets.
After the Royals won the first set of the state championship match, Yorktown (34-3) won the second set by 12 and led in the third set 15-8 when the Royals turned it around.
“It was important for us to get back in the game,” Young said. “I felt like we stopped doing what we’ve done all year to be successful. I felt we got both of (our outside hitters) going, Avery Hobson and Lindsey Mangelson. Our (middle hitters) had been keeping us in the game. Breonna Goss was unbelievable, and Tiffany Snook had a couple of big kills. Obviously, our right-side hitter Lauren Harden has been a go-to all year, but she was solid as well. Madison Evett came up with some key blocks as well. It was just getting back to what we had done all year. What started the comeback was three consecutive blocks. We got hot from service aces, had some aces and we were back in business.”
From there, Young said the team stayed hungry.
“We did what we did all year, being aggressive, attacking,” Young said. “That match was tough because Yorktown is a very good defensive team and we just had to keep making shots.”
Hobson, the Royals’ lone senior, said the team regrouped after losing the second set.
“We were more focused on playing our game, staying calm and doing what we do,” she said.
Hobson was named the Mental Attitude Award winner for Class 4A. The Duquesne University recruit led the Royals with 17 kills.
“It was tremendous to see her get the award,” Young said. “She is a quiet leader, but she is a leader. The girls have so much respect for her. It’s been evident all year long. She came through big in the postseason when we needed her.”
Hobson was on the 2019 team that lost in the Class 4A state final to New Castle. She dressed but didn’t play in that state final.
“It was nice to see her go out on the winning side and getting the Mental Attitude Award win was extra sweet,” Young said. “I know (people say we lose only one playing senior, we should be back next year, but it’s a huge loss. We’ll have to find ways to make up for that loss.”
Hobson said the state title was a great cap to her high school career.
“Getting the state championship for the first time for the school was something special to be a part of,” she said. “Getting the Mental Attitude Award was an amazing moment. It was a surprise, too.”
Two juniors have made their college commitments, with Goss heading to Duke University and Harden having committed to the University of Florida.
“The team chemistry of this team was great. It felt like family, especially with spending every day together with practice, games, team dinners, etc.,” Harden said. “We all got along so well, and even though we had many different personalities on the team, we all came together with our common goals of having fun, being a good teammate and always working hard to make the experience and chemistry of the team so enjoyable. I wouldn’t trade this team for the world, and each and every one of them made it so enjoyable and fun to do.”