LP cruises past City on early senior night
BY MIKE MATHIS
La PORTE -- The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the sports world upside down, as a Senior Night held before Labor Day would attest.
La Porte honored its 12th-graders as part of Thursday's match with county rival Michigan City and in a night filled with emotion, seniors on both sides led a spirited charge, thought the Slicers' superior talent shown through in a 25-15, 25-17, 25-11 Duneland Athletic Conference romp.
La Porte senior parents had their own fun with shirts featuring their daughter's picture in a Hawaiian motif. Hometown high schoolers whooped it up by passing out multi-colored neckwear to fans. Juniors paid credit to their senior teammates afterward in touching tributes during a get-together in the cafeteria.
Though vastly undermanned, Michigan City played disciplined, a credit to coach Jim Kaufman. Ellery Dolezal was good on the left side, ditto for Alexa Sparks' setting and, of course, libero Micah Ruhe. City's play of the night had to be juniior middle blocker Jessica McShane putting a roof job on Slicers 6-foot-1 Aniya Kennedy.
The orange and black simply had more weapons. Justine Talbert was strong in the middle and Olivia Voelker has made great strides, moving from Libero to left attacker. Paige Conklin has adapted to her dual role of setting back row and bringing major heat as a swing hitter in the front, moving left and right with ease. Finally, Halle Seaburg stepping into a back-row set last year caused a dynamic shift, allowing Conklin to expand her offensive game. Seaburg plays six rotations as well, and might be the smartest hitter of all, with a particular affinity for striking off the block.
More competitive matches are coming but this was a celebration of a sport facilitated by Rick Ashmore's Dunes Volleyball Club with three girls from different cities -- Talbert, Dolezal and Seaburg -- all having played together since they were 8.
A 14-day quarantine delayed the start of Michigan City's season until last week and rumors abound that the Sept. 12 Slicer Invite could be drastically affected due to playing in three gyms.
La Porte's night was capped by a seniors' ride to T-Bones restaurant in a Hawaiian fire truck provided by Chris Marshall.
Follow Mike Mathis on Twitter for all the local volleyball lowdown at @mathis_m_g