Avery Hobson led the Royals to a stunning 3-1 victory over McCutcheon on Saturday in a regional final, recording 14 kills and 16 digs. (Grace Hollars/IndyStar via USA TODAY NETWORK)

Avery Hobson’s senior volleyball season didn’t begin as anticipated after Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.) dropped its first match of the year to reigning Class 4A state champion McCutcheon.

Hobson is the team’s lone senior, and on Saturday, when the Royals squared off against McCutcheon again in the regional final, the 6-foot-1 outside hitter had that defeat in the back of her mind. She led her squad to a stunning 3-1 victory, recording 14 kills and 16 digs and earning JWS Player of the Week honors along the way.

“It was a battle the whole time. It was a lot of fun because the whole team was having fun,” Hobson said. “As a team, we knew what we were going against, and we knew how we played before. We just knew that if we played our best and gave it all we had, we just stuck with that.”

Fun, she says, is what sets the Royals apart. It’s what head coach Jason Young has emphasized all season for Hamilton Southeastern, which has won 32 straight matches since that season-opening loss to the Mavericks and is ranked No. 5 in this week’s JWS volleyball team rankings.

“I told the kids at the beginning of the year, ‘Our number one goal this year is to have fun,’” Young said. “When you participate in athletics, it’s supposed to be fun. Obviously, winning is fun, but there’s a lot of other things that go into it.”

Young met Hobson when she was in eighth grade, just a few years after she began playing volleyball. Young says she’s always been a very good attacker, but she’s made other standout improvements throughout her career.

“She’s probably one of the most effective out-of-system hitters that I’ve had at Hamilton Southeastern,” he said. “She’s turned into a six-rotation player. She doesn’t come off the floor.”

The senior leads the team with 405 kills, averaging 4.1 per set. She’s second on the team in hitting percentage (.365), blocks (93) and digs per set (2.5), and third on the team in aces (30).

Naturally quiet, Hobson leads by example, and her teammates have embraced her style. On senior night against Noblesville, the Royals surprised Hobson before the JV match, donning T-shirts with her face on it.

“I was really surprised. It was a lot knowing that they cared so much to put the time and effort into planning that,” she said. “I’ll definitely miss the team aspect. Playing with our team one last time will be special.”

As for next year’s plans, Hobson is committed to play at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa. But before then, she hopes to lead the Royals to a regal finish, with just two matches left to win to be crowned a state champion.

Nika Anschuetz is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @nlanschuetz.