By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – A week is a long time to think about disappointment. A motivated Wawasee volleyball team put that disappointment behind itself Thursday in a resounding way, crushing Goshen 3-0 in Northern Lakes Conference volleyball at the Hardwood Teepee.
After losing to Plymouth last Thursday 3-0 – despite not having two of its starters – Wawasee saw its undefeated and mostly unchallenged season disrupted with a week to sit and think about its first blemish.
And after a slow start in the first game Thursday night against Goshen, it became clear pretty quickly that the Warriors had regained its rhythm and eventually its winning ways.
A mini run in the first game had Kai Jamora score points at the service line to get Wawasee in front 11-7, the largest lead to that point. The game was still tenuous at 19-15 Wawasee when Zoe Taylor recorded a cross-court winner for the kill and a five-point cushion, and Taylor hammered another winner home as Wawasee would close out the game 25-17.
A kill and a block from Dylan Konieczny to open the second gave way to Elizabeth Miller helping Wawasee to five straight points in service as Wawasee opened up a 16-9 lead. Konieczny added another kill and two aces as Wawasee raced to a 25-12 second set win and all the momentum it needed.
“This was Amanda’s best match all-around, she is finding our hitters and setting them up very well,” said Wawasee head coach Jeff Phillips of setter Amanda Allen. “You find your money hitters in every situation. And if you can also move it around and get Amber (Beer) four or five kills, Zoe (Taylor) four or five kills, it makes us very dangerous and hard to defend because you don’t know where the ball is going. She’s very confident right now finding hitters, you saw that a couple times in a row where Dylan had big finishes. Makes a difference.”
As momentum would have it, it was Phillips who twice urged his own Wawasee student section to liven up in the third set. Wawasee rattled off four straight points to take a 10-5 lead to stir up the neon-clad partisans, and the home side would then score eight of the next 11 to put the game, and the match, on ice in a 25-16 cap.
“If you can go out and be exciting, people will come watch you,” Phillips said of the environment, including postgame photos at ‘Club Dub’. “It’ll get exciting, the students will get loud. It’s had an impact on some of our games already, where we get a couple extra points just because of the noise. In high school sports, it seems to matter a little more.”
Wawasee (11-1, 1-1 NLC) have a key stretch coming up, to which Phillips noted senior night is Monday in a home contest against Westview, then a big NLC contest next Thursday at Concord. One which likely determines if Wawasee is in or out of the NLC championship race.
“This season, every match has been a sweep in our favor except one close match against Bethany Christian in a tournament. Other than that, everything else has been pretty comfortable in volleyball terms,” Phillips said. “Then Plymouth happens and we have to adjust. Granted we weren’t at full strength, but it forces us to now have to regroup. Tonight wasn’t consistent at the start, but volleyball isn’t consistent.
“We are hitting a kill efficiency that Wawasee hasn’t hit at in a long, long time and that affords us to make some mistakes and recover from them. When Dylan and Leslie (Vazquez) are swinging like they have been, it allows us to make up for a mistake or two.”
Wawasee won the JV contest 25-13, 25-17. Stats from the match were not provided.