Those of Katie Voelz.
The Tigers’ middle hitter with the massive mitts, helped her team win hands down in their sectional opener.
The smart and steady sophomore helped her Tigers handle conference foe Concord 3-0 in the opening match of the Class 4-A Northridge Sectional.
Voelz, as usual, played a solid match at the net as Warsaw won 25-22, 25-21, 25-17 over the Minutemen.
Warsaw (27-5), seeking its first sectional championship since 2004, advances to play Elkhart Memorial (17-17) in the first semifinal match Saturday at 11 a.m. Elkhart Central (21-6) faces host Northridge (24-9) in the second semifinal at approximately 12:30 p.m. The winners then play for the sectional title at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Warsaw rallied to beat Memorial 3-2 on Aug. 23 in Elkhart to snap the Crimson Chargers’ 76-match winning streak in the Northern Lakes Conference dating back to 2001. Memorial, which beat Goshen 25-11, 25-13, 25-14 in the second sectional match Thursday night, has won five sectional titles in a row.
The Tigers, who beat Concord 3-0 at home on Oct. 4, shook off a slow start Thursday night. The veteran team of coach Mike Howard was playing for the first time since knocking off two-time defending state champion Penn 3-1 on Oct. 8.
Voelz, who reaches six-foot on her tip toes, stood tall at the net again for the Tigers. She delivered several outstanding tip kills by reading the Concord defense smartly.
“Katie has hands that are as big as mine and she has by far the best touch on the ball on our team,” said Warsaw coach Mike Howard. “She’s one of the best tippers we have. She’s maturing as a hitter for us. Tonight, she was just solid with steady play.”
Voelz, to her credit, just smiled when asked about her rather large hands.
“It does help with controlling the ball,” said Voelz. “It is a big advantage when it comes to hitting. I just try to read the court and see the open spots in the defense and then be smart with the ball.”
Voelz was smart all match long. The Tigers struggled in game one against the scrappy defense of the Minutemen. The opening set was tied at 18-18 before a kill by Voelz. Junior Emily Poe followed with a key block and then standout Jamie Lacheta later delivered a pair of kills. Warsaw closed the win on a smart tip kill by senior Sam Jensen to a wide open hole in the middle of the Concord defense.“I was just itching to get out there and pound the ball,” said Voelz of the long layoff. “It was good for us to get back on the court together and play and have a good first match. We should be confident for Saturday. It’s all about heart Saturday. That and having and playing with passion.”
Warsaw used its proved recipe for success of strong serving to take control of games two and three Thursday night. Concord did lead early in game two, but more efficient play by the Tigers and the serving of Chloe Hubner helped Warsaw take control. The final game was tied at 14-14 before a 5-0 run by the Tigers, sparked by the serving of junior Delaney Goble, put Warsaw in command.
“Overall, we didn’t play at a high level tonight,” said Howard. “I thought Concord played great defense and scrapped. We kept saying to be patient in our huddles. To serve tough and just play steady. I thought we had good serving and that’s a big key for us.
“When we needed a big point, normally No. 16 (Jamie Lacheta) gets a swing for us. That was the case tonight. We just have to play defense against Memorial Saturday. We have to be efficient on offense and dictate the match with our serving. And we have to match Memorial’s intensity. They are not going to beat themselves.”
Lacheta, one of five seniors for Warsaw, led the Tigers with 17 kills. The Valparaiso University recruit also led the service effort with four aces off her big jump serve. Voelz and Poe each had six kills and sophomore Taylor Jagger added five. Voelz led the Tigers with two blocks, while Lacheta and Poe each had one. Senior setter Chloe Hubner had 34 assists and two aces. Senior libero Alex Sanchez led the defense with 14 digs. Lacheta had 12 digs and junior Delaney Goble had nine digs and two aces.
Junior Holly Angel led the Concord attack with nine kills. Sophomore Mackenzie Granitz had six kills. Natalie Schiavone, one of three seniors, had four aces and 14 assists. Holyn Eldridge had eight assists, while Gabby Staggs had two blocks and Kylie Ehret one. Jade Iavagnilio had 20 digs, Kennadie Lopez 12 and Ciana Bonfiglio 11.
Paige Newvine paced Memorial to its easy win over Goshen. The senior had seven kills, three blocks, 15 digs and 29 assists.