LP turns back Valpo; stays perfect in DAC
By MIKE MATHIS
VALPARAISO -- Class 4A No. 3 La Porte (11-1) turned back a strong challenge from Valparaiso (8-5) before pulling away in the fourth game to register a 27-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-13 Duneland Athletic Conference victory in 100 minutes of bang bang action.
Valpo sophomore big gun Kennedy Wagner was spectacular with 17 kills but La Porte junior Libero Lesley Marshall was “digging lips” with 17 digs on some of Wagner’s multiple rockets. They were MVPs of their respective teams. Right there as well for the Slicers was Paige “Pancakes” Conklin with 16 kills. Valpo was up 24-22 in the first when the orange and black pulled a pre-Halloween trick to steal it 27-25. Shock theater! The Vikes would not go away, but Wagner spent half her time in the back row and Slicers diggers like Olivia Voelker helped the cause, as did twin setter Halle Seaburg.
With a wink, La Porte coach Jessica Ramirez indicated the strategy was to overload the all-state candidate, while Valpo coach and fellow LaPortean Katie Lenard was proud of her Team Green's effort in the first three games. Fourteen years is a long time to commute 46 miles round trip. Great coaches, better people.
Senior outside hitter Megan Gatz returns for Valpo on Saturday after quarantine from indirect COVID-19 contact. She would have helped as the balance of La Porte tipped the scales demonstrably. LaPorte (15-1) woke up from 6-0 torpor in the first game of the JV match to win 15-11. The addition of Hannah Joseph has made a big difference.. Big jump serve and big thunder on the right is significant. In a media unfriendly environment, this writer was chased from the floor twice before finding a perch in the last row of the gym with Paul Oren of NWI Times. Goes to show what COVID-19 has done, but at least we’re still playing.
La Porte Kills: Conklin 16; Kennedy 9; Talbert, Seaburg 6; Voelker, Dhoore 4 Digs: Marshall 17; Voelker 14; Seaburg 8
Assists: Conklin 23; Seaburg 21
Valpo Kills (26): Wagner 17; Lopez, Nicksic 2
Digs (61): Wagner 17; Stanley 13; Schutz, Kreul 10
Assists: Kreul 13; Schutz 7
For insight on local prep volleyball, follow Mathis on Twitter at @mathis_m_g.