CROWN POINT | Most people can't wait for lunch, but Kankakee Valley's Cami Webster would have been fine without it Saturday.
Her Kougars were rolling through morning pool play, showing their true capabilities, before lunch. After the break, when the nine teams were regrouped to play for either first, fourth or seventh place, her team's inconsistency returned, and the Kougars finished third at the Crown Point Invitational.
"It's like we don't need a break," Webster said. "(In the morning) we had a lot of nice serves, and right from the beginning we ran with it."
The Kougars (12-8) handed Crown Point, the only local team to go 3-1, its only loss. It was K.V. coach Rick Ashmore's first meeting with C.P. since he coached the Bulldogs for four seasons from 2006 to 2009.
"It felt good (to beat C.P.)," Webster said. "We've been up a lot more this season, and we've definitely progressed."
Ashmore said he wasn't focused on beating the Bulldogs. He was more excited about how his players performed.
"We showed in the morning what our abilities are," Ashmore said after South Bend St. Joe's wrangled second place from his team with a 25-8, 23-25, 15-12 win.
"When we talk and compete, we can play against anybody."
The Bulldogs (11-7) took fourth after beating Lowell 25-20, 25-22 in the final match of the day. C.P. was down 21-16 in the second game, but the incentive to win and earn a day off from practice Monday rallied the team.
"Even though we were tired at the end, we pushed to finish," senior Nina Zdanowicz said. "Even though we didn't win the tournament, which was our goal, we came together as a team."
Zdanowicz delayed the second game when she took an unusually long time to tie her shoe, asking several teammates to assist. However, that was her only major problem on a day that included 13 kills for her and 16 for twin sister Melanie. With injuries limiting several teammates, Nina played all around and refused to sit when her laces went awry.
"I made it into a worse knot because I was nervous, and then I couldn't undo it," Zdanowicz said.
Crown Point started the season 1-4 but has won 10 of its last 13. On a day when the ninth-place team beat the eventual champ, Hamilton Southeastern, the final finish in the standings wasn't a huge deal.
"At this point in the season, it's about building and progressing and getting everybody ready," C.P. coach Alison Duncan said. "We've got to continue to get better."
Portage went 1-3, but the Indians beat Plymouth, which placed last despite beating Hamilton Southeastern. Plymouth was 1-1 through pool play but advanced only to the seventh-place pool due to tiebreakers. Merrillville also beat Plymouth.
"It was a long day, but it's nice to finish with a win," said Portage coach Brian Zofkie, whose setter, Kacie McGuire, was the difference in the win over Plymouth. "We're at a stretch where we play 10 matches in 12 days, and without a lot of practice time it's hard to cover mistakes."