Volleyball sectional semi-finals revved up Saturday morning across the state. With it saw the seasons end for a pair of local teams, and two more continuing down the road toward a sectional championship.
NORTHWOOD 3, TIPPECANOE VALLEY 0
NorthWood never let Tippecanoe Valley settle in, quickly taking care of business at the Class 3-A Wawasee Sectional. NorthWood stormed to a 25-10, 25-16, 25-15 win.
Game one saw a 3-3 score rapidly shift to 13-6 Wood, setting the tone for the rest of the matchup. Valley’s duo of Makenzie Woodcox and Hayley Backus weren’t able to slow down NorthWood’s attack, led by Maddy Payne’s 14 kills and four blocks. A Payne smash in game two pushed the score to 8-1, and even after Valley desperately tried to get back into it, closing within four at 16-12, NorthWood would pull off eight straight points.
One bright moment for Valley came at the end of game three, where Woodcox recorded a kill in her final play as a senior, assisted by Hannah Engstrand. Woodcox finished with seven kills on the day, but ends her career with 1,096 kills, which is the all-time record at Valley, surpassing Sophie Bussard’s 1,075 kills capped last season. Engstrand finishes her junior season with 866 assists and has 1,260 assists for her career, her season total among the top 20 setters in the state.
“I told these girls coming in, in high school ball it’s who shows up that day, and today NorthWood was just stronger than us all around,” said Tippecanoe Valley head coach Mallory Eaton. “NorthWood was about as consistent on the ball as we’ve seen all year. It’s hard to replicate that, especially in practice when you don’t have kids who can hit that way. I don’t think our girls ever gave up, we just were outplayed in areas. I’m just proud that we kept fighting even though there was a considerable gap and we could see the writing on the wall.”
Amy Baca added seven kills and a block, and Brayden Baney had nine digs and an ace for the Vikings, which finish its season 21-11.
NorthWood saw Kate Rulli add eight kills, Gracie Clark and Caroline Mullet send over four aces, Mullet and Macy Lengacher combine for 21 digs and Mullet send up 32 assists.
NorthWood (30-3) will face West Noble (11-19) in the final this evening, the Chargers a 25-22, 26-24, 25-19 winner over Jimtown in the second semi-final. The Panthers are seeking its first sectional title since 2015, the Chargers have won two of the last three titles.
PENN 3, WARSAW 2
Penn and Warsaw waged an epic battle in game two of the Class 4-A Goshen Sectional semi-finals. Warsaw ran out to a win in game one, 25-20, only for Penn to put Warsaw up against the wall, winning games two and three 25-23, 25-22. The Tigers forced a deciding fifth after a 25-21 win in game four, but the Kingsmen were too tough down the stretch with a 15-8 closer.
Warsaw started the day on a real high, using the energy of Betty Barnett’s return to the lineup as its catalyst. Barnett, who missed much of the season to a knee injury, came back wrapped up and full of spirit, and managed 10 kills before her knee wouldn’t let her jump anymore.
The Tigers had several others in the mix at the net, with Kaylie Weeks leading the team with 13 kills, Gwyn Bellamy and Kennedy Lauck both with eight kills and Abby Sanner with seven kills. Lauck also had six blocks, but her two kills at the end of game four allowed Warsaw new life when Penn looked as though it would put the Tigers away sooner than later.
Avery Hales ended a spectacular freshman season with 37 assists, 10 kills, eight digs and two aces.
Defensively, Kylie Smith was as good as anyone in the gym with 20 digs and 12 serves received, adding two aces and kept a lot of plays alive that looked like easy Penn points. Elizabeth Schmidt also had a big day on the back line for the Tigers, recording 17 digs and 17 serves received.
“Kylie was unbelievable in the back row, all of our kids played their hearts out,” said Warsaw head coach Rick Ashmore. “These are good kids that work really hard. There’s nothing to be mad about with this. Penn is a great program and we played a great game against them. Some choices here and there that hurt us, but we were fighting until the end.”
Warsaw ends its season 25-8 overall. Penn (27-6) will face Elkhart Memorial, which knocked out Northridge 25-15, 20-25, 25-16, 25-7 in the first semi-final at Goshen.
TRITON 3, WEST CENTRAL 0
Triton punched its ticket to the Class 1-A final at West Central with a 25-13, 25-12 , 25-20 win over the host Trojans. Triton (15-16) will move on to battle Oregon-Davis in tonight’s final. Triton beat Oregon-Davis in straight sets at the Trench earlier this season.
Abbey Viers had a huge game for Triton, mashing 22 kills to lead the offense. Lexia Hostrawser provided 10 kills and two aces.
Dylanie Miller and Emma Hepler co-piloted 34 assists, and the backline of Molly McFarland and Jaela Faulkner combined for 27 digs as Triton moves on.