WARSAW – Apparently, all it took was a little conversation.
Warsaw hit some bumps in the road Thursday against a pesky Plymouth side, but some court chatter seemed to get the Tigers back on the right path in a 3-0 win at the Tiger Den.
After storming out to a 23-14 advantage in game one, the chatter on the Warsaw side of the court went from mega positive to almost non-existent as Plymouth went on an 8-0 run to make it a game. A pair of Plymouth errors ended the first set 25-22 in favor of Warsaw, but the vibe had changed for the home side.
“We weren’t talking much in the first game, got a little bit of a lead, and then decided we didn’t need to let each other know who was doing what,” stated Warsaw head coach Rick Ashmore.
Warsaw again started off hot in game two, taking a 6-0 lead, but soon found itself down 13-7 as unforced errors piled up for the Tigers. Needing a spark, Abby Sanner was the flint stick with two blocks and a kill to help Warsaw take a 17-16 lead, and then two kills and a block from Kennedy Lauck gave Warsaw some needed breathing room. Allison Heinrich and Gwyn Bellamy closed the set with kills as Warsaw were on their way, 25-21.
“Abby has definitely improved since the beginning of the season,” Ashmore said. “She has really stepped up in the front for us. With Betty (Barnett) out, someone had to step up and make some plays and that was Abby tonight. She was really solid for us.”
A lengthy delay to open the third set left a little doubt in whether Warsaw would run away with the night or let Plymouth climb back in. The visitors were penalized a point for an illegal server, but more than 20 minutes was needed to sort out the mess, grinding what was a rocking Tiger Den into a bored white noise. Once play resumed, Sanner immediately kicked in a kill and block, and teamed with an ace from Avery Hales and kill from Kaylee Weeks and Warsaw was quickly up 16-9. The Tigers would go on to close out the third set 25-12, putting a bow on its 15th win of the season.
“These kids pulled each other up and helped each other up when someone was down, that’s been our biggest thing in wins like these,” Ashmore said. “The communication on the court got much better as the night went on, and the ability of these girls to pick each other up is the sign of a really great team.”
Warsaw, winners of seven of its past eight contests, played without star outside hitter Barnett, resting up a nagging injury. In her place, Kaylee Weeks led the team with 12 kills, Sanner had eight kills and Lauck and Bellamy each had five kills. Kylie Smith was a dynamo in the back, pulling up some real slick ups among her 25 digs to go with seven aces. Kendra Love and Liz Schmidt each had eight digs and Hales connected on 28 assists and five kills.
“When we get Betty back, and with this group of girls that are really hungry right now, we should be in great shape heading into the tournament,” Ashmore said.
The JV contest went to Warsaw in a 25-15, 25-14 scoreline. Tessa Graney had 31 huge assists, setting up Sadie Walden, Katie McKibben and Allison Heinrich for seven kills each. Walden and McKibben added eight digs each.
Warsaw won the freshman contest 25-16, 25-11. Delaney Silveus had 15 digs, two kills and two aces to lead Warsaw. Lauren Eastwood contributed 16 assists and four digs and Sophia Adams added nine digs and three aces.
Warsaw (15-4, 3-1 NLC) returns to work Tuesday at home against Fort Wayne Carroll.