By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – It was a morning intended for vintage feels. The current Wawasee volleyball team did all it could to help the vibes.
Before Saturday’s varsity opener between Bremen and host Wawasee, the Warriors honored the 1995 sectional championship team. The last team to win a sectional sat in pride as the 2021 Warriors throttled Bremen 3-0.
The 1995 squad was to have been honored last fall on the milestone 25th anniversary of its title, shockingly the last time Wawasee has won a sectional championship. After offering a tip of the cap ahead of the varsity contest, the latest outfit looked sharp in speeding past the Lions 25-10, 25-13, 25-16.
It took Wawasee about 10 points into the first game to get its footing, but from there, it took off. The Warriors ran out to a 19-9 lead in the first, which included aces from Leslie Vazquez and Amanda Allen along with two well-placed finishers from Dylan Konieczny.
As Wawasee got going, it started picking apart gaps in the Bremen defense. An 8-3 lead once again ballooned as Kai Jamora added a pair of aces among three straight service points. After just over 45 minutes, Wawasee was in cruise control.
“We have a veteran team and most were part of the team last year, but for the most part, people came in with solidified roles and we didn’t need to adjust much,” said Wawasee head coach Jeff Phillips. “Yes, we had some holes to fill to graduation, but we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel with our roster. That gives us a lot of confidence.”
Bremen claimed a 6-5 lead in the third set, but as it had all morning, Wawasee countered with a quick run, this time a 5-0 spurt to regain its edge. Vazquez hammered home a pair of convincing kills in the final set, part of an 11-kill day to go with a team-leading eight digs. Konieczny settled on 13 kills and two blocks.
After a record-setting sophomore season, Allen started her junior campaign with 29 assists and added four aces, while Jamora had four aces and seven digs.
“We have Leslie and Dylan as seniors, and having them know the offense and how it works, that allows us to do some different things where it’s not just free balls we might have sent over the net years ago,” Phillips said. “When you have a setter coming back with 875 assists, that’s huge for any program. With a great setter, you can cover up a lot of other holes, especially early in the season.”
Junior varsity action had Wawasee quickly put away Bremen 25-14, 25-10. Jolie Likens had a good start with seven aces and six digs, and the duo of Abbi Burelison and Julie Mishler combined for 11 kills.