In a clash between two top high school girls’ volleyball squads, Muncie Burris took on Frankton in a non-conference matchup. This was not the first time Burris has squared off against Frankton this year, as Burris triumphed earlier in the season with a 2-0 win.
Both teams went into this game with a 4-0 record in their respective conferences, with Burris playing in the Pioneer conference, and Frankton in the Central Indiana conference. Additionally, each program headed into the matchup with more than 15 wins on the season.
The Owls have had a very successful 2023 campaign so far under the lead of head coach Jim Craig. They won their first two tournaments, but their most recent tournament did not go their way, losing the finale to the Greenfield-Central Cougars 2-1.
“All season our defense has been really solid,” Craig said. “When you mix that with the senior leadership we have, and such an extraordinary talent that we have with Lilly [Howell], it’s easy to build a team and have success.”
Junior Lilly Howell has led the way for Burris this year, leading the team in kills-per-set (3.8), hitting percentage (53.3 percent), total blocks (37) and total kills (191). The Owls have been accustomed to winning this year, as Thursdays’ 3-0 win marks the team’s 19th on the season.
The first set started off with Howell getting three quick kills.
“It feels really good starting off like that, especially when you’re playing such a competitive team like Frankton,” Howell said. “It’s just really good to get the team going and energized.”
With a fluent first-set performance that never seemed to fail, Burris went on to win the first set comfortably, 25-13.Coming off a set one win, the Owls kept up the energy that was reciprocated from the home crowd.
“The crowd brings a lot of enthusiasm and helps get the team energized,” senior Aubrey Miller said. “I think, as a team, we play a little bit better when we have people to cheer us on.”
The second set was closer than the first, with the Owls having to bounce back from an early 6-1 deficit, but they were able to hold out for a commanding 25-16 win.
Miller touched on how having weight off the teams’ shoulders after winning the first two sets helps the flow of the overall game.
“We always talk about how we need to lock in the next two sets,” she said. “Winning the first set means nothing if we aren’t able to win the game.”
Set three echoed the first two, with the Owls coming out striking. Burris only needed one more set to take the win, and Howell stepped up once again.She leads the Owls with kills this season, and led in the victory over Frankton too.
With Burris’ conference tournament coming up soon, Howell is very confident in the Owls’ ability to win it.
“We’re feeling really confident to win the conference right now,” Howell said. “There are definitely some good teams in our conference, but we are confident that we can push through and win it.”
Burris will try to get a win streak going when the Owls head into the Pioneer Conference tournament. Should the Owls advance that far, the championship game is set for Sept. 23.