WARSAW — There were few surprises on the courts at the Warsaw Sectional semifinals Thursday evening.
The host Tigers advanced via 5-0 sweep of Northern Lakes Conference-rival Wawasee, while Columbia City did likewise opposite Whitko in the other bracket at the tourney, setting up Saturday morning’s finale.
“I’m proud of the boys. They did well,” said Warsaw head coach Stacy Lind.
“All the boys were confident and eager to win, and they stepped out and played hard.”
One of the few surprises that did occur Thursday came at 1 singles, where Caleb Williams reprised a pair of losses to Warriors No. 1 Zach Leedy. Williams lost their first meeting by a third-set tiebreaker back on Sept. 11, and Leedy backed up that initial win — Wawasee’s only match point of the meet — with another three-set victory during the second round of the NLC Tournament a little more than a week ago. But Williams had the run of play Thursday, and he clinched a convincing, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Leedy on the sectional stage.
“Caleb went out on that court tonight and played his game. It was a great match,” said Lind.
The Warriors were also competitive at the 2 singles position, where Graham Perek took seven games from Reuben Williams, but it wasn’t enough as Williams put him away, 6-3, 6-4.
“Usually our 1 and 2 singles were very competitive against Warsaw. Today the 1 was not as competitive, and you know you’re going to have those days,” said Wawasee coach Shane Staley. “I thought both of them could’ve easily won those, but it just didn’t happen tonight.”
Brian Elliott beat Colin Rhoades 6-2, 6-2 at the 3 singles spot to close out the singles sweep, while Nolan Knight and Spencer Britton combined for a 6-1, 6-1 win over Grant Brooks and Jacob Krugman at 1 doubles, and Jarrett Orr and Michael Ray downed Clayton Firestone and Zeke Keim, 6-1, 6-0 at the 2 doubles position.
“I knew we’d be underdogs going into it. I was just looking for people to step up and do things they haven’t done before, and we saw that on a few courts,” said Staley. “Our number 2 doubles seemed to be volleying a little bit better and doing some of the things I’ve asked them to do. We’re making steps, but, like I said, they’re young and inexperienced so I knew we were going in here as a major underdog.”
The other surprise at Thursday’s meet also came at the 1 singles position, where City’s Kendall Smith won by forfeit when Whitko No. 1 Devon Akers didn’t show up at the courts for undisclosed reasons. Eli Jones beat Aiden Hoffman 6-1, 6-2 at 2 singles, and Jordan Lee topped Bryce Tucker 1-0 at 3 singles, while Logan Campbell and Jackson Longenbaugh eliminated Micah Cokl and Nathan Smith, 3-0 at 1 doubs, and Jacob Ianucilli and David Kyler trumped Jackson Hollenbaugh and Johnathan Strayer 6-2, 6-2 at 2 doubs.
The semifinal outcomes set up a showdown between City and Warsaw for the championship Saturday morning. The Tigers will play for a 12th straight title but first under Lind when play opens at 9 a.m. Although they’re the umpteen-time defending champs and the favorites, Warsaw’s players aren’t taking anything for granted against a solid Eagles lineup.
“You say, again, not to take things for granted. You have to go out and fight for every point,” said Lind.
Across the way at the Bremen Sectional, the host Lions advanced 5-0 over Northern Indiana Conference foe John Glenn, while defending champion Plymouth earned another 5-0 sweep over LaVille in the semifinals. The championship is slated for 4:30 p.m. Friday, when the Pilgrims play for a 22nd straight title.