LIGONIER – The fun, exciting and sometimes frustrating adventure that was the 2013 Lady Warrior volleyball season came to its conclusion on Thursday night. Wawasee fell at the hands of Class 3A No. 6 Fairfield 3-0 in the quarterfinal round of the West Noble Sectional.
The Falcons, whose program has captured nine straight sectional championships, and Lady Warriors exchanged punches in the first game like two heavyweights in a prizefight. The upset-minded Lady Warriors would not let the Falcons pull away, keeping the deficit between four and five points. Unfortunately, Wawasee could never close that gap, which kept Fairfield slightly out of reach before the Falcons finally claimed a 25-15 victory.
It seemed that the Lady Warriors had used all of their energy in the first game after watching Fairfield jump out to a 7-1 lead before closing the gap. Wawasee fought back into contention but Fairfield would again prove superior with a 25-15 win.
The third game again saw Fairfield jump to a big lead earl on but Wawasee would chip away and eventually tighten the score at 15-13, forcing Fairfield to take a timeout and regroup. The quick pep talk from head coach Carla Herschberger appeared to be just what the Falcons needed to close out Wawasee as Fairfield went on a 10-3 run to cap the victory, 25-16.
“We really didn’t get a rhythm going tonight,” Herschberger stated. “We did not look that good winning tonight. This is really the first sectional action for a lot of our girls. Our two middles have some experience but outside of that we really had a lot of inexperience for sectionals.”
Inexperience was not the problem for Wawasee as the team was led by its three seniors on the court for the last time in Kasey Napier, Lydia Katsaropoulos and Hunter Gaerte. Katsaropoulos led the team with seven kills while also adding five digs. Napier had six digs, four kills and led the team with one ace. Gaerte added another eight digs and two kills for the Lady Warriors.
While the departure of the three seniors will certainly be a significant loss for Wawasee, Lady Warrior head coach Jeff Phillips knows that the team returns a good roster next year that has been positively influenced by this year’s graduating seniors.
“There are 18 girls in that locker room, and only three are leaving,” Phillips began. “Those are three girls who played club volleyball all three years, came to winter conditioning all three years and committed to volleyball all three years that I have been here. Those three girls have created an environment where we have raised the level of expectations in their time here.”
Wawasee finishes the season at 15-17 while Fairfield (27-7) will meet NorthWood in a semi-final match Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in Ligonier. Host West Noble plays Tippecanoe Valley Saturday at 11 a.m. in the first semifinal. The championship match is at 5 p.m. Saturday.