PLYMOUTH – The Warsaw volleyball team took another big step Thursday night to doing something special.
Katie Voelz, whom her coach calls a “special” player, was right in the middle of it all too as usual.
Star senior Voelz powered what has the special look of a championship squad to a huge Northern Lakes Conference win at Plymouth.
Voelz slammed down 13 kills and dominated play at the net as the Tigers toppled the Pilgrims 25-21, 25-20, 25-12.
The victory moves the Tigers overall mark to 13-3, but more importantly makes them 4-0 in NLC play. Warsaw is bidding to win its second NLC title in the last three years and looks like the team to beat without a doubt. The Tigers have already won at perennial NLC power Elkhart Memorial, who they also knocked off two years ago enroute to a 7-0 league mark.
Plymouth, which has given the Tigers trouble at home in recent years, was no match for the power of Voelz and the serving prowess of the Tigers. The Pilgrims drop to 12-6 overall and 2-1 in the NLC.
“This match was worrisome because traditionally we struggle here,” said Warsaw coach Mike Howard. “Plymouth defends and they fight. I’m ecstatic to come in here and win 3-0 tonight.
“This team has different mental approach this year. They just have a great bond. We have girls who care about each other, they care about the coaches and they care about the program. I also have a great coaching staff.”
The Tigers have overcome obstacles all season long. Howard was out early after having back surgery and several players have missed matches due to injuries, including Jordyn Lindeman who was in a car accident. Voelz has also been slowed by an ankle injury.
“We’ve been able to build depth this season with all that has gone on and that’s been exciting,” Howard said. “Everyone is playing so well for us right now. We have young quality players like Blake McGarvey and Haley Peterson that didn’t even play tonight, but they are unsung heroes for us.
“The week where we lost to Marian, beat Memorial and then went 2-2 in the Mishawaka Invitational galvanized us as a team. We just went 3-3, but we beat Memorial, we played tough versus Cathedral and we beat Mishawaka, who we lost to last year.”
Warsaw, which has three NLC matches left on the docket, played tough Thursday.
The Tigers trailed 14-10 in the opening game before the trio of Voelz, Caroline Mayer and Cassie Hoag got them going. Warsaw pulled away to take the first set 25-21.
Warsaw rolled out to a quick 9-5 lead in the second set. Mayer, a junior, was strong early at the net. The Tigers had a lull at the service line by missing three late that enabled the hosts to pull within 21-20. But, Jordyn Lindeman stepped up big with a gorgeous tip kill, two more slams for kills and Celia Heckert served strong at the end in the 25-20 win.
The Tigers put an exclamation point on the win in a dominant final set. Warsaw led just 5-4 early before pounding the undersized Pilgrims the rest of the way to finish out the match at 25-12.
“Katie is special,” said Howard of his senior star. “She passes. She defends. She plays with a joy that is infectious and contagious to everyone.”
“Our serving drives us. It drives everything we do. It’s a big focus for us.”
Mayer had nine kills, senior Heckert seven and Lindeman five. Sophomore libero Peyton Adamiec had 19 digs to go with two aces and five assists. Sophomore setter Cassie Hoag had 37 assists and 15 digs.
Lindeman led the serving parade with four aces. Heckert and Adamiec each had two. Voelz, Lindeman and Courtney Steffensmeier each had two blocks.
Warsaw still has NLC matches left at Wawasee (Sept. 25) and then at home versus NorthWood (Oct. 2) and Concord (Oct. 9).
“The pressure builds as we go,” said Howard of staying undefeated in conference play and remaining the team to beat.
Plymouth won the junior varsity match 25-23, 18-25, 15-9 Thursday.
Kenzie Welk had eight kills, two aces and 14 digs for the Warsaw JV, now 10-2 overall and 2-2 in the NLC. Alexia Day had eight kills and an ace, Hanna Leach eight kills and three blocks and Dayton Groninger five kills, an ace and four digs. Alicia Sikora had two aces and four assists, while Abby Serbousek had 20 assists and Raina Armey 13 digs and Jamie Grose 10 digs.
The Warsaw freshman team beat Plymouth 25-11, 25-22 and lost to Mishawaka 25-18, 25-23. The frosh Tiger squad is now 12-5.
Warsaw competes in the Michigan City Invitational on Saturday and then plays at Wawasee next Thursday.