La Porte tunes up for Crown Point rematch
By MIKE MATHIS
LaPorte took the scimitar, figuratively of course, to visiting Chesterton, 25-14, 25-18, 25-12, in a Duneland Athletic Conference match Thursday, warming up for Tuesday's second big go-around with Crown Point.
"It looked like dancing on the court," Slicers coach Jessica Ramirez said. "Everyone in rhythm. That's the best they've played this year."
There was no Chesterton answer for La Porte on this night as extremely dynamic MVP Paige 'Pancakes' Conklin fired bullets, left, right and middle, to the tune of 11 kills. Fellow MVP Myrriam Dhoore matched the kill total and is getting better every day. Both have picked up Olivia Voelker's side-arm shot.
"We limited out errors, jelled and clicked, and our coverage was good," Dhoore said. "We had each other's back. We played at a whole different level. My teammates and coach are confident in me, so it's easy to be confident in yield.
Impressive for this comeback kid who quit volleyball for a while during the spring.
LP just had more weapons and better serving to win the day as Libero Lesley Marshall took rocket to the chest but passed and bump set second balls. Marshall made one-arm bandit plays was always covering on blocks. Justine Talbert had the best one-arm save of the night. Talented sophomore Kayle Dove led the team in aces with six, including four back-to-back service winners in the decisive third game.
"We really, really jelled tonight," Dove said. "We were all on point."
It was good to see Meghan Gaffigan back from an unexplained last-minute absence the first time the teams met. Gaffigan, Ella Rodriguez, Emma Ekblaw were Chesterton's offensive leaders.
"La Porte is obviously a really great team and we didn't show up, so when you don't show, that's the expected outcome," Trojans coach Amber McCaw said.
Aniya Kennedy added seven kills for LP. Marshall and Voelker had 16 and 13 digs, respectively. Halle Seaburg made 18 assists and Conklin 11 with both scoring four blocks.
Masked up for safety, Kayle Dove, Paige Conklin and Myrriam Dhoore keyed La Porte's sweep of Chesterton in Thursday's match at Slicer Gym. (Photo by Mike Mathis)
On Tuesday, La Porte shook off its 90-minute bus ride to St. John to turn back Lake Central, 25-22, 25-19, 10-25, 27-25, in a DAC grinder that took over two-and-a-half hours.
The Slicers' MVP had to be setter Seaburg and left attacker Voelker. Seaburg dished butter on her way to 25 assists. She took a rocket shot to the face when playing defense, but the garrulous leader proved up to the task with a smile and guile. She gets the most from her game and leads LP in floor saves.
Voelker (17 kills) is getting more comfortable on the left after playing Libero for years. Her successor, Marshall, a former club gymnastics state champion, tallied 17 digs.
Ramirez continued her experimentation as JV standout Legacy Thomas started and finished at middle blocker with smoking big gun Kennedy (14 kills) moving outside. Conklin (13 kills) was sweet music as well. A varsity setter as a freshman, the uber-athlete's game was opened by the arrival of Seaburg last season. Now she and Seaburg share duties in the back row. Conklin has a wicked arm and great velocity front row with a deceptive jump block to those questioning her front-row defense. When the Slicers separate her and the 6-1 Kennedy, they
could ride that orange and black train all the way to Muncie for the state championship.
LC's MVP had to be powerful left side hitter Caroline Krueger with four-year varsity player Emma Best, who gave coach Matt Clark the high sign that a balky shoulder was working, right there. Joie Mulligan was nice hitting on the right side and setting from the back in the Indians' 6-2 attack.
Caroline Krueger, Emma Best and Joie Mulligan played well for Lake Central in Tuesday's four-game loss to La Porte. (Photo by Mike Mathis)
For Mike's unique take on local volleyball, follow him on Twitter at @mathis_m_g.