SYRACUSE — It started off bad and never got much better for the Wawasee volleyball team Tuesday night. The Warriors hosted potential sectional opponent West Noble and were swept on their home court, 3-0, by the visiting Chargers.
West Noble was in total control from the start. The Chargers jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first game before forcing a Wawasee timeout. That timeout did little to help Wawasee’s cause, however. The Chargers opened up an 8-0 lead before the Warriors earned their first point. West Noble actually led 17-1 at one point in the first set. The Chargers won the opening frame 25-9.
The Warriors put up a much better fight in the second game, but were unable to stop West Noble from gaining separation. The visitors took that set 25-17 and carried that into a 25-15 win in the third.
So, what happened? What needed to change for Wawasee on the court Tuesday night? That’s a question that Wawasee coach Kayla Riportella was both asked and wanted an answer for.
“I asked my team the same exact thing between sets and after the match,” began Riportella. “The interesting thing is that the team that showed up to practice yesterday was not the team that showed up for the game tonight. Is there a reason for it? I don’t know that yet. That’s what they’re discussing as a team.
“We backed off today. We were intimidated. We have to stop playing not to lose and start playing to win.”
The one boost that Wawasee did receive Tuesday night came in the form of a return to action for Cassie Ponce. The junior outside hitter suffered an ankle injury in the first match of the season. She returned to play briefly last week against Elkhart Memorial but was able to play a regular rotation spot against West Noble.
“We’re still working on some growing pains,” Riportella said when asked about Ponce. “She’s been out six weeks. It’s definitely been a frustrating process. She played one set against Memorial, so this was her first full game back. There was a big improvement from Thursday’s game to now for her. She’s been working her butt off in practice. It will take some time, her injury wasn’t exactly a minor one. She’s tough, she’s working through it and we’ll get her to where she needs to be.”
Ponce’s return could not come at a better time for Riportella’s squad. The Warriors are currently 5-17 overall and sectionals are just over two weeks away.
Wawasee was led statistically by Hannah-Marie Lamle’s seven blocks and three kills. Taylor Mock had seven assists and nine digs. Madi Wilson led the team with 14 digs.
Wawasee hosts NorthWood Thursday evening.
The junior varsity contest was won by West Noble 2-1. Caitlin Wortinger led the JV squad with 22 digs. Elizabeth Kleopfer added 14 assists.