ELKHART – The Warsaw volleyball team was not about to throw in the towel Tuesday night.
They had put way too much sweat and effort into a marathon match to let that happen.
That being said, the Tigers spent plenty of time using towels to dry up the perspiration on the court under sauna-like conditions.
Both Warsaw and the host Crimson Chargers put plenty of sweat into a Northern Lakes Conference donnybrook in a sweltering Memorial gym.
The Tigers, in the end, prevailed in a highly-competitive tussle of two young teams to emerge with a huge 3-1 win.
Warsaw beat the Class 4-A No. 17 Chargers 22-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-20 to open NLC play.
The Tigers, who beat Memorial 2-0 in a pool play match in the Mishawaka Invitational on Saturday, have now won their last three regular-season meetings at Memorial. The perennial power Chargers, who joined the NLC in 2001, have won the league title every year except in 2012 and 2014 when Warsaw claimed bragging honors. A 3-2 Warsaw win at Memorial back in 2012 snapped the Chargers’ 76-match NLC winning streak,
Warsaw, which has not played a home match yet this season, improves to 6-6. Memorial drops to 4-3.
The back-and-forth match, which took just over two hours to play, ended on a kill by Warsaw standout Lexie Day.
First-year Warsaw coach Rick Ashmore requested some dry towels in the final game to help his players wipe up the perspiration on the floor from the spirited match.
The new Tiger mentor, whose starting lineup were all underclassmen Tuesday night, liked what he saw as his team outlasted Memorial.
“Our girls just have to realize what they are capable of achieving,” said Ashmore, whose roster has just one senior this season. “We have a lot of things to improve on. We’re kind of taking baby steps right now with such a young team as I’m sure Memorial is too.
“I’ve been very happy with what the girls have been doing. I’m very proud of them and their response to me. They’ve bought into the team concept. We stress that you win as six people out there, not as one. We’ve been on the road every match so far. We’ve just accepted it. I know we will get to play at home sometime because we do practice there.”
Warsaw, which lost to Memorial three times last season albeit as both teams had very different rosters, took a big lead in the second game only to see Memorial rally within 23-21 late. Day ended the game with a huge ace to even the match.
“We talk about playing the game on our side and not easing up,” noted Ashmore. “Some times our youth comes in and we don’t finish.”
The Tigers did finish by winning the big points in games three and four. Memorial rallied to lead 23-22 in the pivotal game three before Day slammed a pair of huge kills late for the win. The final game was tied at 13-13 and was 16-15 before the Tigers used a key 5-0 run to take command.
“I challenged some players at key points (like Alexie Day and Nikki Parrett) and they responded,” said Ashmore. “I’ve been really pleased with Kacy Bragg (our sophomore setter). She’s done everything I’ve asked of her. She’s really becoming a leader for us. I’ve coached some great setters and she has a chance to be really good.”
Memorial coach Jacquie Rost, who lost seven seniors from last year’s 28-10 team that made it to the Class 4-A semistate semifinals, credited Warsaw’s serving.
“Warsaw’s aggressive serving made a different in the offensive opportunities we had in serve receive,” noted Rost. “As a staff, we are pleased with the progress we’re making as a young varsity team in many parts of our game, but tonight our inconsistency really hurt our ability to maintain a lead or on the other hand not put ourselves in a deficit that we were fighting to get out of. We certainly played them tougher than we did on Saturday, but we came away from this disappointed in the points we gave up because of our own errors.”
Junior Alexie Day paced the Warsaw attack with 15 kills. Junior Nikki Parrett powered down 11 kills, while junior Hanna Leach had six, sophomore Rachel Yeager five and sophomore Bragg three. Parrett had five aces, while Leach and Erin Peugh had two each and Brynn Durecki one. Bragg had 37 assists. Leach had two blocks, while Yeager and Katie Swanson each had one. Peugh paced the defense with 20 digs, while Durecki had 14, Day 10, Parrett five and Leach four.
Junior Sydnie Schultheis led Memorial with nine kills. Mackenzie Williams had seven and DJ Johnson six. Senior Krystal Grubb had 25 assists. Stultifies had four blocks, while Brooke Troyer had 18 digs, Lindsey Stahl 14 and Morgan Gonsoski 12.
Warsaw won the junior varsity match 25-22, 25-21 to improve to 4-0. Cassadi Colbert had seven kills, Jamie Grose and Kenzie Martz four each and Gwyn Bellamy three. Grose had three aces, Courtney Chookie two and Addie Dickerhoff and Colbert one each. Dickerhoff had 20 assists. Amy Herendeen had 13 digs, while Dickerhoff had seven, Grose, Colbert and Bellamy six each and Chookie three.
The Warsaw freshman team beat Memorial 25-21, 25-17 to move to 9-0 on the season. Sierra Derossett had nine kills, McKenna Hawblitzel and Brooklyn Slone six each and Kaia Hummitch five. Hawblitzel had four aces, Kylie Prater three and Allie McGuire two. Prater had 18 digs, McGuire 16, Hawblitzel and Slone 15 each, Derossett 12 and Katie Schmidt seven. Schmidt also had 25 assists. The frosh Tigers host Goshen and Tippecanoe Valley Thursday night.
Warsaw plays at Goshen Thursday night in NLC action. Memorial returns to action by hosting Goshen next Tuesday.