October 24, 2013

Area volleyball sectional action starts up tonight

Logan hosts Kokomo; No. 7 Pioneer faces Tri-County.

by Beau Wicker

— Logansport’s volleyball team is taking momentum into its sectional after winning the county tournament last weekend.

The Berries (18-13) host Kokomo at 7:30 p.m. tonight in a first-round match of the Class 4A Logansport Sectional.

“We’ve had a good week of practice this week after winning the tournament,” LHS coach Jon Vernon said.

The Kokomo match is a rematch of a match played on Oct. 3 in which the Wildkats won in four games in Kokomo, 18-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-18.

“Jason Watson has done a very good job with that group,” Vernon said of the Wildkats. “They won five or six games last year and I think they’re 13-18 this year. I think the fact is we didn’t play extremely well in that match. We weren’t as focused as we are right now. If we play like we can I think we should be able to play well against them and do the things we need to do and hopefully get a win. They’ve got a good libero, Amanda Tran, and we’ve got to keep our serves away from her and get them out of system.”

The first match of the night pits McCutcheon vs. Lafayette Jeff at 6 p.m. Tonight’s winners square off at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by Harrison vs. Marion. The final is at 7 p.m.

Harrison is the defending champion and has won five sectional titles in the last six years.

“It’s the same exact draw from last year with the home teams and everything. It’s bizarre,” Vernon said. “I told the girls tonight to focus on one point at a time and one game at a time and don’t worry about anything else. McCutcheon has had a decent year but I’ve heard they lost their big middle hitter. I’m not 100 percent certain but she might not play and that would help out if that’s the case. Jeff has a decent group and last year Jeff beat McCutcheon so you never know. We played well against Harrison but we did not play well against McCutcheon the first match of the year. I watched the tape of that and we are not the same team from the very first match of the year. I think it’s very open. The girls believe they can win if we play well. We have to string together wins.”

Vernon is hoping his squad can pull out a sectional title on its home floor.

“It’s at Logansport and the kids are excited about that,” he said.

Sydney Bullard leads the Berries in kills (354) and is ranked sixth in the state in Class 4A according to Nakeya Penny has 174 kills, followed by Monika Ness (113), Karlee Vernon (104), Paulie Frye (92) and Lauren Pruitt (49).

Lindsey Cheney has a team-high 354 digs, followed by Katie Easter (187), Bullard (177) and Hannah Jones (153). Jones has dished 500 assists and Easter adds 289. Easter has a team-best 50 aces. Frye leads with 43 blocks.

Class A Pioneer Sectional

Pioneer is hosting a sectional this year as well.

The No. 7-ranked Panthers (23-9) are a big favorite to win their eighth straight title.

Pioneer opens at 6 p.m. tonight against Tri-County (6-23). The 7:30 p.m. match features Caston (8-22) vs. South Newton (17-13). The winners square off at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by North White (23-8) vs. West Central. The final is set for 4 p.m. Saturday.

Pioneer finished runner-up to Logansport at the county tourney on Saturday. PHS coach Rod Nies certainly wasn’t happy with the performance and warned that the Panthers’ season could end much earlier than usual with a similar effort this weekend.

Sarah Dorris leads the Panthers in kills (315), digs (351) and aces (51). Hannah Tevis adds 243 kills and 97 blocks, and Lyndsey Stewart has 115 kills and 60 blocks. Riley Morris leads with 405 assists but has missed the last few matches with a knee injury. Shelby Roller adds 377 assists and 147 digs. Kayte Miller has collected 190 digs and has filled in at setter for Morris. Megan Smith is second on the team with 343 digs.

The Panthers’ biggest threat looks to be North White, which has won 15 of its last 16 matches with the only loss being a five-gamer against Clinton Prairie.

Caston, led by senior all-arounder Haley Hoover, is looking for what would be a big win against South Newton tonight.

“We played them two other matches this year,” Caston coach Taylor McFarland said. “We competed well with them, we didn’t end up winning, but they ended up having an ineligible player which gave us two wins. We’re not sure exactly what their lineup is going to look like now, but I want the girls going in thinking that we can definitely compete and win.”

Class 2A N. Miami Sectional

The Kings gave Pioneer a close match at the county tournament and then secured third place with a win over Caston on Saturday.

“If I can make Rod Nies call a timeout I’m happy, because that means he has something to say and we’re under his skin,” Cass coach Gretchen Crum said.

The Kings had to play back-to-back matches on a warm day in the Berry Bowl with their libero, Kassi Zeck, having already competed at a band competition all day as a drum major.

“She obviously starts our offense,” Crum said.

The Kings feature a balanced attack. They are led by their three seniors, Zeck, Claire Crum and Gabi Hartley, who are complemented well by a talented sophomore class.

“These girls really get along well, and they try hard to please me and each other.  Sometimes they just need to get mad and go out and pound someone. That’s the attitude they need against Southwood, to give everything you have for a whole match,” Gretchen Crum said. “I am very proud of these girls. I enjoy every minute I spend with them.”

The Kings (10-17) drew No. 6-ranked Southwood for a 6 p.m. match tonight.

The Tom Finicle-guided Knights have won 11 sectional titles in row and 22 overall. Gretchen Crum said they again have an amazing team this year.

“They are. Having said that, I don’t know this is the Southwood team of some of the years I’ve seen, but it won’t make any difference because he’ll have all guns blazing,” she said. “He’s not going to show anybody anything. He’s not going to show his hand. He’s going to complain that he doesn’t have an outside hitter and blah, blah, blah and sandbag through like he always does. And then they’ll bring all their weapons. We’ve never played them that poorly. They’ve never just like murdered us. I don’t expect that. Is it time for them to be upset? It sure is. Why not. Why not.”

Wabash faces North Miami in the later match tonight. Tonight’s winners square off at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, following Northfield vs. Oak Hill. The final is set for 7 p.m. Saturday.

Class 2A N. Judson Sectional

Winamac is in a new sectional field this year.

Despite entering with an 18-14 record, the Warriors could be the favorite this year, but coach Cathy DeFries cautioned her team will have to show consistency it hasn’t always shown this year.

“With the way we’ve played this year, I would not count any chickens yet,” she said. “Delphi has played some larger schools in the Lafayette area.

“If we play clean we should be OK. We’ll see what happens.”

Winamac faces North Judson at 6:30 p.m. EST tonight. The Warriors have already defeated the Bluejays three times this season. DeFries said for the first time this season, both teams should have every player available for this match and that her team needs to be prepared to battle.

“We know Judson is hoping the fourth time is a charm. It’s happened before,” DeFries said. “We have got to play well. We have been so up and down this year. We’ve been plagued by injuries and we’ve been plagued by errors. We have a very young team and we’re still learning how to play the game. We have to stay out of negative hitting percentages and serving percentages and we’ll be OK.”

The Warriors had a tough break to start the season when their go-to hitter, junior Taelor McClure, was lost to the season with a torn ACL.

The Warriors are led by senior Bethany Brogdon, who’s 620 digs rank sixth in the state on

Savanna Button leads the Warriors in kills (234) and blocks (63). Ashley Eichelberger is second in kills (231). Taylor Jones leads in assists (469) and aces (77).

The Winamac-Judson winner faces North Newton at 1:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, following Delphi vs. Rensselaer. The final is at 6:30 p.m. EST Saturday.