As area rivals met for the second time this season, Whitko hosted Wawasee under the “Pink-Out Night” event slogan in an effort to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research.
Wawasee took the first meeting earlier this year in its own invitational, and would deny Whitko a chance at revenge, taking the match Tuesday night in three games 25-22, 25-21, and 25-16.
Both teams eyed the match as an opportunity to get a win but the game had an even larger purpose for the local community. Coach Brandy Smith and her Lady Wildcats held their first-ever “Pink-Out Night”. Day led her team onto the court in a pink shirt while her team sported pink uniform tops in honor of breast cancer awareness.
The visiting Lady Warriors also took part in the cause by wearing pink head bands and shoelaces while Wawasee head coach Jeff Phillips also sported a pink shirt. With parents from both schools showing support by wearing pink and the Wildcat student section in full throat and donning some extreme pink, it was clear that the true winners of Tuesday’s may not have even been in attendance.All proceeds from the fundraiser are being given to both the Whitley and Kosciusko County Breast Cancer Awareness Foundations. The efforts Tuesday night produced over $300 in proceeds.
The first game was a classic back-and-forth matchup in which the Lady Warriors did not play up to par with expectations as Phillips would acknowledge after the match, “We came out a little slow in that first game.”
That slow start allowed Whitko to grab an early lead which kept the Lady Wildcats in the game throughout. Several mental mistakes and missed opportunities kept Whitko from getting control of the game. Where Whitko faltered, Wawasee capitalized, and held out for a tight three-point win in game one.
The Lady Warriors burst out to a 7-0 lead in the second game but let the Lady Wildcats creep back into the game with a few missed serves and mental mistakes of its own. Whitko took advantage of Wawasee’s miscues and put the pressure back on the Lady Warriors when it closed the gap from 11 to four. But Wawasee would outlast Whitko yet again, this time thanks to a pair of aces and all around clutch play from Lady Warrior senior Anne Beer.
Phillips acknowledged his senior’s dynamic play throughout the night, who had 18 digs, 11 kills and three aces.“I thought Anne Beer had her best offensive night of the season, which is really good this time of year.”
In the third game Wawasee flexed its muscles one last time and downed the Lady Wildcats one last time to claim the match and second victory over Whitko this season. After the match, coach Smith explained what went wrong for her team Tuesday night.
“We’re still lacking communication and we’re still lacking that drive, desire, that want, that super competitive edge,” Smith said.
In response to the team’s effort to raise money tonight, Smith added, “It was a lot of fun, it was our first time doing this and we loved the turnout we had tonight from our fans.”Whitko falls to 5-15 on the season and hits the road Thursday night to take on Canterbury High School in Fort Wayne. Leading the Lady Wildcats Tuesday were Whitney Hobbs with six kills, three blocks and two aces. Maddie Gawthrop had seven kills and a pair of aces, Jenny Brown 14 digs and Meghan Peters 15 assists.
After a solid win Coach Phillips expressed the excitement from his team’s locker room, “Tonight is an achievement of one of our goals, 17 wins now there is no way they can have a losing record.”
Phillips continued by saying what the goals were for the remainder of the season, “With a winning season achieved now, we want to get to 20 wins, win three of those next five games, and go into sectionals with confidence.”
Alli Ousley assisted Wawasee with 28 helpers and had 13 digs, Hunter Gaerte dropped 12 kills and 12 digs and Taylor Spangle had nine kills and two aces.
The Lady Warriors do guarantee themselves a winning season with the win tonight by improving to 17-11 overall. Wawasee will try to boost its confidence Thursday night when it welcomes in traditional Northern Lakes Conference powerhouse Elkhart Memorial.
In JV action, the Lady Wildcats downed the Lady Warriors in two games, winning both by a score of 25-21. For Whitko, Whitney Marsh had three kills and Emily Day four assists. For Wawasee, Olivia Huffman paced the side with 12 digs, 10 assists and two aces.