The Tigers’ bid for a sectional championship was denied as tournament rich Elkhart Memorial posted a 3-1 win in semifinal action of the Class 4-A Northridge Sectional.
The Crimson Chargers used a determined defensive effort to turn back the Tigers 27-25, 18-25, 25-23, 25-22.
Memorial went on to defeat host Northridge 25-17, 25-21, 25-12 in Saturday night’s sectional final to claim its sixth straight sectional championship. The Raiders rallied to best Elkhart Central 3-2 in the second semifinal Saturday.
Memorial (19-17) hosts No. 6 Penn (31-5) Tuesday night in regional action at 7 p.m. Northridge finishes its season 25-10.
Warsaw, which was aiming for its first sectional title since 2004, finishes at 27-6.
Memorial’s win avenged a 3-2 home loss to the Tigers back in August. Warsaw’s win, which saw the Tigers win the final two games, snapped Memorial’s 76-match winning streak in the Northern Lakes Conference dating back to 2001.
On Saturday, coach Jacquie Rost had her team ready.
“I give a lot of credit to Memorial,” said Warsaw coach Mike Howard in a phone interview. “They have a lot of championship experience and that was huge in the equation. They were relentless in the way they defended. We got some big swings, but they played inspired volleyball. Jacquie knows how to get her kids ready. I knew how dangerous a team they were.
“I’m just very sad our season is over. It was heartbreaking to see the girls’ emotions after the match. They were devastated. There were a lot of tears. But, it’s a teachable moment for our younger kids who are returning. They have to remember this and use it as motivation.”
Warsaw just simply could not win the key points Saturday. Howard believes being the sectional favorite was a factor, a new position for his team to be in.
“The game is different when you’re the hunted,” Howard said. “We had opportunities. We were up after 20 in each game. We just made critical errors on key points. We missed five serves in game one. We just struggled to go on runs like we normally do.”
The Tigers put together an amazing season with their 27 wins. Warsaw went a perfect 7-0 to win the NLC title, the first time in more than a decade that someone other than Memorial won it.
“This team set a standard for our program,” said Howard. “No one can take away their accomplishments.”
The Tigers lose five seniors in top hitter Jamie Lacheta, a Valparaiso University recruit, setter Chloe Hubner, libero Alex Sanchez, steady middle Sam Jensen and Rebecca Ailes.
Lacheta led Warsaw versus Memorial with 30 kills, a block and three aces. Junior Emily Poe had 11 kills and 13 digs and sophomore Katie Voelz had 10 kills and two blocks. Hubner had 43 assists and two aces. Sanchez had 16 digs and Delaney Goble two aces.
Elkhart Memorial def. Warsaw
27-25, 18-25, 25-23, 25-22
Top Memorial players: Aces — Christy Hill 1, Paige Newvine 1, Claire Welter. Assists — Newvine 37. Kills — Lexa Magnuson 14, Brianne Ballow 11, Chelsea Bettis 10. Blocks — Ballow 5 (1 solo), C.Bettis 5 (0 solos), Magnuson 4 (0 solos). Digs — Hill 15, Newvine 14, Welter 14, Tori Mills 12, Mady Robison 10.
Records: Warsaw 27-6, Memorial 18-17.
Northridge def. Elkhart Central
19-25, 26-24, 15-25, 25-20, 15-10
Top Northridge players: Aces — Alicia Beckler 2, Courtney Prough 2, Brooke Maes 1. Assists — Morgan Miller 33. Kills — Mackenzie Eash 11, Kelly Miller 11, M. Miller 8, Annie Bachman 8. Blocks — M. Miller 5 (3 solos), Laura Craig 5 (2 solos). Digs — Beckler 16, Craig 16, Hannah Kistler 15.
Top Central players: Aces — Olivia Jenks 2, Kate Cobb 1, Taylor Shreiner 1. Assists — Shreiner 55, Cobb 3. Kills — Azariah Stahl 47, Jenai White 11. Blocks — Stahl 5, Maddie Vaught 4. Digs — Cobb 17, Jenks 16.
Records: Elkhart Central 21-8, Northridge 25-9.