MICHIGANTOWN — It had been 42 days since Central Catholic’s volleyball team dropped a set.
When things weren’t going well and Cowan ended a streak of 47 sets in a row Saturday morning in the Class A Clinton Central Regional, no one was more composed than Knights setter Lilly Powers.
“She is a little bucket of sunshine,” senior outside hitter Gretchen Kuckkan said. “It is nice to have someone who is so positive and encouraging on the court. To have that as your setter is really nice.”
Powers and the top-ranked Knights responded, ending Cowan’s season 25-16, 25-20, 23-25, 25-20 to improve to 32-0.
However, Central Catholic’s season ended Saturday night with a 26-24, 27-25, 21-25, 12-25, 15-10 loss to Covington.
A major reason CC made it this deep into the season without a loss was the seamless transition from Sami Royer, a two-time Journal & Courier Player of the Year who competed in two state championship matches, to Powers, a sophomore whose role last season was as a serving specialist.
With a talented offensive arsenal around her, Powers entered the regional averaging 10.1 assists per set. She handed out 46 assists against Cowan.
“From spring to summer, she worked really hard to put herself in this position,” Central Catholic coach Brad McCarter said. “The nice thing is we have an experienced core around her that has allowed her to make mistakes and they can help clean them up.”
It’s no surprise Powers embraced the challenge of stepping into a high profile position for one of the state’s top programs.
Powers has two siblings playing Division I sports.
Lindsey is a former Knights libero who went on to play the same role at Eastern Illinois University.
Lilly Powers credits her older sister for teaching her volleyball.
Tyler Powers is a second baseman for Purdue’s baseball team. Lilly says he taught her the mental part of competition.
But with a Powers household full of athletes, things get competitive.
So when she won a Class A state championship in volleyball as a freshman, she made sure to let them know.
The Powers family had been a combined 0-5 in state championships, with Lindsey playing for a pair of runner-up volleyball teams and Tyler playing for two runner-up baseball teams and a runner-up basketball team.
“I rubbed it in their faces because they hadn’t won state before,” Lilly Powers said with a smile.
Last year, though, her role was minimal.
She came off the bench, served and returned to the bench. But McCarter had no reservations putting a freshman into a tough spot.
“She doesn’t shy away from big moments,” he said. “She stays in there. She’s levelheaded. She is confident in what she can do.”
This year, she’s in the No. 1 server spot, where McCarter counts on the sophomore to get CC off to a good start, a role she relishes.
She’s the setter, essentially the volleyball team’s point guard or quarterback, for a team that’s trying to run the table in an undefeated season. If the Knights complete the quest, she’ll forever have bragging rights.
“We always thought it would be cool if we went undefeated, but none of us thought that would actually happen,” Lilly Powers said. “If we went all the way, I think that would be the coolest thing to ever happen to me.”
With Powers setting up the attack, Gretchen Kuckkan put down 22 kills and Jozee Evans used her strong right arm to add 15. The duo also completed double-doubles with 13 and 11 digs, respectively.
Sam King covers high school sports for the Journal & Courier. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @samueltking.