SYRACUSE – There was finally some celebrating to do for the Wawasee volleyball team. The 2014 season has been a roller coaster ride that has seen some nice wins but also a lot of frustration. On Saturday afternoon the Lady Warriors were able to relieve some of that stress by fighting their way to first place in their own invitational.
The 23rd Annual Wawasee Volleyball Invitational went as well as it could have for the host school as the Green and Gold would go 4-0 on the day, defeating Garrett 25-18, 21-25, 15-12.
“All day we did the things that we’ve talked about all season,” said a very relieved Wawasee head coach Jeff Phillips. “We passed well enough, we served well enough but we didn’t make the stupid errors where we give up four or five points on serve receive, hitting or serving errors. I’m sure our kill efficiency was as high as it has been all season.
“The final match came down to how great our girls could be up against the best player in the gym. We had all 12 players contribute today. This was a team win and one for our seniors to go out on. To put this trophy up is great. We like our other invite trophies but to get this one and put it next to the junior varsity invite trophy means that we held our home court in our tourney. This is a win to build on.”
The player that Phillips referred to as the best in the gym was Garrett’s Taylor Smith. Smith, a 5’11” junior, has already committed to playing for the University of Maryland after graduation.
The future Big Ten athlete showed why she was so highly touted in the championship match as she recorded 10 assists, 10 kills, 10 digs and four aces. Smith was also named to the All-Tournament team. The key for Wawasee was to keep the ball away from Smith as much as possible and the Warriors did that very well in games one and three.
Wawasee played very impressive volleyball in game one, keeping Smith at bay and frustrating the rest of the Garrett squad. Wawasee looked like the far superior team for the majority of the first game. In the second game the Warriors were not able to keep Smith in check as she was able to get a rhythm going and close out the game with her serving.
In the third game the Warriors did not fold though it would have been easy to do so. Wawasee came out with more energy and took a quick 5-0 lead. Garrett would claw its way back into the match, but some fantastic plays from a host of Warriors earned Wawasee the first invite title on its home court in the Phillips’ four years as head coach.
Wawasee beat Whitko (25-17, 25-13), Culver (25-9, 25-15) and Bethany Christian (25-16, 25-21) to win its pool earlier in the day.
Alli Ousley made plays all day and was named to the All-Tournament team. Ousley had 57 assists, 22 digs and five aces over the course of the tournament. Aly Anderson led Wawasee with 65 digs on the day. Liz Hardy led the team with 7.5 blocks. Meghan Fretz was Wawasee’s kills leader with 26 and Grace Ondrla led the home squad with six aces.
Wawasee (12-9) will be back home on Thursday evening as it hosts Northern Lakes Conference leader Warsaw in the annual “Pink Out Match” to benefit the Kosciusko Cancer Care Fund. Play begins at 6:45 p.m.
Tippecanoe Valley Leaves Tourney Proud, Exhausted
After playing three matches this past week, the last thing the Tippecanoe Valley volleyball team wanted was to play in a tournament all day on Saturday. But that is how the schedule was set up so the Vikings went to work and came out 2-2 on the day.
Valley dropped its first two matches of the day to Garrett and Columbia City. Being in an 0-2 hole was far from the goal coming in but the Vikings stayed focused and were able to notch two wins before the end of the tourney, downing Three Rivers Conference foes Wabash and Whitko.
“Overall, looking at the whole day, we did well,” said Valley head coach Mallory Eaton. “We had moments where we had mental let downs and that’s just part of being a high school team. We are a team that is very good at fighting back and we pulled through today in our matches. Obviously we want to leave 4-0 but I told our girls that they will never be this tired again and that this will only help us come sectional time.”
Valley’s three-game win over Whitko was the second time this season that it had beaten the Wildcats. Viking senior Caylie Teel was named to the All-Tournament team as she had over 30 kills on the day. Tippecanoe Valley is no 14-7 on the season and will play TRC opponent Northfield next week.
Whitko finished the day at 1-3, getting its only win over Bethany Christian in pool play.