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Written By Ink Free News / Sports on Friday, October 18, 2019

The Lady Tigers celebrate a point in the second set of their Goshen Sectional match with Concord Thursday night. (Photos by James Costello)

GOSHEN — Warsaw coach Rick Ashmore wasn’t really concerned that his volleyball team would be playing the same Concord squad it just faced last week in the Lady Tigers’ Goshen Sectional-opener Thursday.  After all, that’s often standard for the state tournament, and, besides, the Tigers made quick work of the Minutemen in that first NLC match.

Which they did again, 25-11, 25-15, 25-13, to advance to Saturday’s semifinals in Goshen.

“It’s just one of those things. We’ve had where we had to play a team in a tournament on a Saturday and then turn around and play them on Tuesday, so it’s something you kind of get used to doing,” explained Ashmore.

If Ashmore was nonchalant about such a quick rematch, so were his players. Warsaw’s bench never needed to call a timeout as the Tigers trailed just once in Thursday’s three-setter — at 2-1 in the second game — and used long service runs to take control early in each set. They were so comfortable in fact, they even took a moment to pose for pictures in the middle of the third set.

Kylie Smith served up six aces Thursday.

Credit a strong service game that included 11 aces by the Tigers, including six by sophomore libero Kylie Smith and another three from freshman setter Avery Gum-Hales.

“The kids were hitting the zones that I was getting really, really well, which was then setting up some of our offense. Our idea was to serve tough and go after them. If you let Concord get in a rhythm they can play,” explained Ashmore.

Meanwhile, Warsaw used a characteristically varied attack led by 12 kills apiece from junior Kennedy Lauck and freshman Kaylee Weeks, another eight by senior Gwyn Bellamy and five from sophomore Abby Sanner. It’s a committee approach the Tigers developed early in the season when last year’s leading hitter, Betty Barnett, was sidelined with an injury. Barnett was still on hand Thursday to cheer her team loudly on as they dispatched their conference rivals a second time.

“We’ve tried to move the ball around a little bit, especially when we lost Betty early on, we started learning how to have faith in other people,” Ashmore said.

If Warsaw’s service game was outstanding and its attack was great, the Tiger defense didn’t look too shabby either. Smith led with eight digs and 10 serve receptions, while Kendra Love finished with nine digs and seven receptions, and Hales notched eight digs to go with her 34 assists. Sanner led the net defense with three blocks.

Allison Heinrich and Abby Sanner go up for a block.

“I liked what we did defensively, getting ready to speed up our offense and go after things. The defense had an excellent game today,” said Ashmore.

The Tigers move to 25-7 and advance to play Penn — a 26-6 team that also looked dominant in Thursday’s early quarterfinal opposite Elkhart Central — in a last semifinal scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The winner of that contest advances to play the winner of an earlier match between Northridge and Elkhart Memorial in the championship at 7 p.m.

“I know a lot of them. It’ll be a war, I think,” said Ashmore of the Penn match-up. “Both teams are excellent teams. I think everybody will come ready to play. Should be a good volleyball match.”


The Lady Tigers pose for a photo mid-match in Thursday’s comfortable win.

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