Greenwood volleyball sweeps Indian Creek to advance

Greenwood senior Mya Ayro entered Wednesday night’s match sitting on 999 kills in her high school volleyball career.

Classmate Ella Dean took the court with 998 assists.

It didn’t take long before both school-record sums required a comma.

Ayro, the Woodmen’s outside hitter, finished with 20 kills as Greenwood advanced to the semifinals of the Johnson County tournament with a 25-14, 25-20, 25-23 first-round win over visiting Indian Creek.

The Woodmen (18-8) play Franklin in today’s 5:30 p.m. semifinal in the auxiliary gymnasium at Edinburgh.

Greenwood coach Zach Mackie’s squad swept the Braves in both meetings this season — the latest requiring more effort as Indian Creek, despite a disappointing first set, showed its mettle.

“All the respect in the world to Indian Creek. They put up a fight, and we knew they were going to give us their best shot,” Mackie said. “I’m super proud of these girls. Eighteen wins, I mean, that’s a lot.

“I’m impressed by the way that our players have pulled together and fought through the adversity of the season. Not just at the beginning, but throughout. The season has a lot of highs and lows, and right now we’ve had a lot of highs, and it helps.”

Ayro had plenty of help as she and Dean padded their single-season and career record numbers.

Junior lefthander Maria Bellapart Blanch stepped up with nine kills for the Woodmen, while Amy Luttrell provided eight of her own and Brooklyn Bell six to go along with two service aces. Junior Addison Whitecotton came through with five aces in the win.

In the opening set, the Braves trailed 11-10 before Greenwood rattled off 13 consecutive points, a stretch that included two of Whitecotton’s aces and three kills from Luttrell.

Indian Creek proved increasingly resilient as the match wore on, closing to within 17-16 in the second set before Ayro dominated to the tune of five kills late to put it away. The Braves rallied from a 10-4 deficit in the third to tie the score on four occasions at 18-, 19-, 20- and 21-all.

Greenwood clung to a 23-22 advantage when Bell gave her team a bit more breathing room with her final kill of the match.

Meanwhile, Ayro and Dean both achieved their respective milestones in the opening set.

In the case of the former, career kill No. 1,000 tied the score at 3-3, which drew applause from the Woodmen fans in attendance.

“It’s always been a goal, but in the past two years we ran into coaches who didn’t do stats as much,” Mayo said. “I kind of forgot about the goal, and didn’t really expect it to happen.

“But over the past week, my mom and coach Mackie spent a lot of time getting the stats. (Tonight), I didn’t expect all the little ‘1,000’ posters, but it felt nice.”

Freshman outside hitter Adri Williams led Indian Creek (12-12) with six kills, followed by Faith Wiseman with five.