The WCHS senior may want to send out a few extra tapes to schools of her performance Monday night.
Lacheta, a powerful outside hitter with a big arm swing, was the difference maker as the Tigers rallied to stun Mishawaka Marian 3-2 in a prep volleyball donnybrook.
The senior star slammed a match-high 32 kills to power the Tigers to a 20-25, 26-24, 24-26, 25-21, 15-7 victory in the marathon match that eclipsed the two-hour mark.
Marian, which finished 27-6 in 2011, was ranked No. 8 in the Class 3-A preseason poll.
Lacheta, appropriately enough, smashed a kill from the back row for match point to set off a jubilant Tiger celebration.
“It helps a lot to have No. 16 (Lacheta) on your side,” said WCHS coach Mike Howard of his star. “I’m a much better coach with her on my team. She’s just a stud. When she’s right like tonight, she’s hard to defend. This will be a nice tape of her for colleges to watch.”
Warsaw, now 4-1, proved its mettle and resiliency by winning the final two games against the host Knights. Marian (2-1) came into the match with wins already over LaPorte and NLC power Elkhart Memorial on its early-season resume.
The Tigers, who opened their season by going 3-1 Saturday in the Lafayette Jeff tournament, did not back down at crunch time. After seeing a 24-23 lead and serving turn into a gut-wrecnching 26-24 loss in pivotal game three, Warsaw just calmly regrouped. The Tigers tightened their defense and amped up their serving over the final two games for the victory.
Lacheta, who is receiving a lot of interest from Ball State University and Valparaiso University, was virtually unstoppable when she had to be against the taller Knights frontline. She led a 5-0 run to end game four with a kill and then four service points, including an ace off her impressive jump serve for game point, as Warsaw erased a 21-20 deficit for the win.
The Tigers fell behind 3-2 in the final game before seizing the momentum with a 6-0 run keyed by junior Emily Poe, sophomore Katie Voelz and Lacheta to lead 8-3. Marian got no closer than 10-6 from there as Lacheta closed the huge win with two kills sandwiched around an ace.
“It was all communication out there,” said a sweat-drenched Lacheta of how the Tigers were able to rally from a 2-1 deficit. “That held us together. Everyone stayed together and we were screaming our heads off out there. We just moved on after that third game.
“We definitely stepped up our defense and relaxed those last two games. We served the ball in play. When we cleaned that up you saw how it affected us and our play.”
The Tigers served much tougher and more efficient in the final two games. Warsaw missed 10 serves in the first three games, including four in the game one loss and five more in the game three setback.
“We want to be steady and play steady because steady wins,” Howard said. “We got on a great roll late and seized momentum. We passed much better tonight and got others involved like Emily Poe and Sam Jensen.
“We talk about serve, pass and defense. When we can pass the ball, we’re a hard team to beat. I hope this kind of signature win gives un confidence going forward. This is my fifth year and we’ve lost to Marian and Memorial every year before tonight. We’ve played them some tough matches, but never beaten them before tonight. This is huge for us. This team is little more resilient and a little more mature.”
Lacheta, who also had five service ace and two blocks, left an impression on Marian coach Dan Anderson, who has coached his fair share of Division I players in his 21 years at Marian.
“She’s awesome and the real deal,” said Anderson, who has 493 wins at Marian and seven trips to the Class 3-A State Finals (including four state runner-up finishes). “I’d set her every ball. She hits, she serves, she plays defense. She’s easily a Division I player.
“We need to learn how to finish and to be confident, but not overconfident. We were a little too sure of ourselves tonight. Warsaw wanted to win as much as we did. We were a little overconfident.”
Lacheta, one of four senior starters for Warsaw, got plenty of help Monday night. Junior Poe had 22 kills and 18 digs for the winners. Voelz finished with seven kills and a team-high six blocks. Senior setter Chloe Hubner had 56 assists to go with two aces and two blocks. Senior libero Alex Sanchez had 25 digs, while junior Delaney Goble had 14 digs and three aces and senior Sam Jensen two blocks.
Warsaw returns Al-NLC performers Lacheta, Poe, Hubner and Sanchez from last year’s team that finished 25-7 overall and 6-1 in the NLC.
Junior Jordan Beuter (a 6-0 outside hitter) led Marian, which started no seniors Monday, with 17 kills. Elizabeth Asdell, a 6-2 sophomore, had 14 kills for the Knights. Asdell led Marian with six aces and Nikki Pullin had two. Beuter, Asdell and 6-0 sophomore Alyssa Hasler each had three blocks. Sophomore setter Maggie Gibson had 43 assists.
The huge win gives the Tigers a huge boost of confidence heading into a huge match at Elkhart Memorial Thursday night in the NLC opener. The Crimson Chargers, who were Class 4-A state runner-up in both 2007 and 2009 under coach Jacquie Rost, have won 76 straight conference matches since a loss to Warsaw in their first-ever league contest way back in 2001. Marian won 3-1 at Memorial last Thursday. The Crimson Chargers were also state finalists in 2003 and 2008.
“It would mean the World to me to beat them,” said Lacheta. “I want to be the team that stops their NLC winning streak and wins the NLC championship.”
Warsaw hosts Northfield Tuesday night before squaring off with Memorial Thursday evening.