A fast start by Wawasee against Tippecanoe Valley completely flipped over as the Lady Vikings turned the tables on the Lady Warriors once again, winning a five-set thriller in Syracuse. Wawasee won games one, 25-12, and two, 25-22, but Valley rallied to win games three, 25-12, four, 25-18, and held on for a 19-17 win in the decisive fifth game.
The hot start could not have been any better for Wawasee, which jumped out to a 6-0 lead to begin the first game and spread out a 16-5 lead before Valley was forced to regroup in a timeout. A 9-2 Wawasee lead in game two looked as if the home side were poised to make quick work of the team that knocked it out of the sectional last October in a heartbreaking five-game stunner, but Valley showed it had plenty of fight.
Valley battled back to 21 all in the second game, and despite Wawasee winning the game, the Lady Vikings were gaining steam.
Busting out to a 13-4 lead in game three, Valley were relying on the net play of Kelsey Ball and Courtney Newsome and a much more composed defense. Newsome provided defensive stability with 18 digs, including a pair of great ups during Tippy’s run in game three and four.
As Tippy worked through the game four win, the tide had completely swung to the visitors, setting up a whale of a final fifth game.
“I think a lot of it was just our nerves,” said Valley coach Abby Turner. “We came out tight, scared, the girls had jitters all over their faces. I think they started to relax more in the third game and then in the fourth game came alive. They finished it in the fifth.”
Wawasee seemed to be hanging on by a thread, literally, after an error and touch out of bounds put Valley up 14-12 and serving for the match. But the Lady Warriors scored two in a row, highlighted by an ace from Lydia Katsaropoulos, to tie the score.
Wawasee regained the advantage on two separate occasions serving for the win, but luck was not on its side. A Katsaropoulus serve went just inches wide on match point, and Valley rallied to score three of the final four points to claim the win.
“You get to a game five and it doesn’t really matter who is playing good and who is playing bad,” started Wawasee head coach Jeff Phillips. “We didn’t give them game five, but obviously it would be nice not to get to game five in situations like this.
“We had a terrible practice yesterday, I know they were ready to play a game. Game one I will attribute to that, they were ready to play,” continued Phillips. “We were here a long time this summer and worked hard. I think what you saw in game one is what we can duplicate in full matches as we move through the season. If we do that, we can compete with anybody.”
The play of Alli Ousley (18 assists, eight kills) and Leeann McGuire (20 assists, two aces) kept Wawasee alive while Aly Anderson assisted on 25 points. But the stellar play from Ball, who had 10 digs, nine kills, five aces and four blocks, along with 20 digs, 11 kills and four aces from an unsung Caylie Teel made a huge difference.
“Caylie is one of our go-to players,” Turner said. “Tonight I think her timing was better and she was putting the ball away.”
The Wawasee JV started the night and season on a high note, winning 13-25, 25-17, 15-6. Olivia Huffman had 20 assists and four aces while Jazlyn Gehlhausen added nine digs and four aces for Wawasee. Valley had nine combined assists from Maddison Henninger and Diana Baca while Lauren Early and Jaden Biddle both had five digs.