WINAMAC — With two evenly matched teams battling back and forth Tuesday night, Winamac’s volleyball match with Frontier had five games written all over it.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, they never got to that fifth game. They let a sizable lead slip away in the first game which cost them a chance at pushing it to five. And they ended up losing in four, 25-23, 18-25, 25-16, 25-22.
The Warriors had leads of 15-10 and 20-16 in the all-important first game before the Falcons stormed back with a 9-3 run to take the early lead.
“I think we just played really tentative,” Winamac coach Cathy DeFries said. “We didn’t maybe expect a lot from them, and I knew they were going to be ready when they came in.
“I think we played scared. We see a 6-2 girl on the other side and we’re not used to seeing that kind of stuff. I told them they’ve got to be ready for everything. They’ve got to be ready to play every night and be aggressive regardless who’s on the other side.”
With the loss the Warriors dropped to 6-2 and 0-2 in the Midwest Conference. The Falcons improved to 3-0 and 1-0.
The Falcons have gotten a big boost this year with the addition of move-in Kattie Lee, a 5-foot-8 junior who was one of the best players on Pioneer’s semistate finalist team of a year ago.
Lee ended the first game with a booming kill. She also had her thunderous serve going and recorded several aces. In the third game she got on serve with a 17-13 lead and extended it to a 23-13 to put that game out of reach.
“She’s awesome,” Frontier coach Shelly Pullins said. “She’s definitely a great asset to the team.”
Frontier also has a standout basketball player in the middle in 6-foot junior Jenna Sullivan, whom DeFries referenced to earlier.
Said Pullins: “I told her, Jenna, ‘you get your approach down, and they can’t stop you.’ And she did that. When they were able to dig her balls she wasn’t doing her approach. But once she did her approach it’s hard to stop her being that tall.”
The Warriors probably don’t have the firepower they did a year ago after heavy losses to graduation from last year’s semistate team, but they can still be a successful group according to their coach.
“I think we’ve surprised some people. We’ve used the term ‘great expectations,’” she said. “We’re trying to follow in the footsteps of those ahead of us and trying to get them to play out of the shadows and step up, and that has kind of been a challenge and I think it’s going to be a challenge.
“We’ve just got to be smarter. We have to be a smarter team and learn how to place the ball, because we’re not going to get the hits that we got last year. We’ve got the sets, we’ve got the setter who’s going to put the ball where we need it. We have to be more consistent with our hitting. Whether that’s power or placing the ball, that’s got to happen for us.”
Senior setter Sarah Redweik finished with a team-high eight assists, six kills and 17 digs for the Warriors. She added four blocks.
Erin Knorr had 17 digs and four blocks as well. Katy Anspach registered 12 blocks, five kills and three aces.
Heidi Hendryx collected four kills and four digs, and Stef McGovern had 10 digs and three kills.
The Warriors cruised to a win in the second game, and if they could have held on in the first they seemingly would have had a 2-0 lead and the outcome could have been different.
The Frontier coach thought her squad falling into an early deficit was its own doing.
“At the beginning I think it had to do with being our first away game and they weren’t gelling. They didn’t look like they were playing to their potential, and then they just finally came into their own playing the way that they have been the last week,” she said.
The MWC title could now be decided when Frontier travels to Pioneer on Oct. 1 for a Saturday matinee. Pullins thinks her squad has the potential to knock off the defending-champion Panthers.
“I think it’s possible, I think it’s very possible,” she said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”