PORTAGE | Valparaiso coach Tim Shideler hoped his players could exploit some Penn mistakes Tuesday afternoon, but those opportunities were few and far between.
The No. 19-ranked Kingsmen rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Vikings at the Portage Regional, advancing to today's 4:30 p.m. championship against No. 21 South Bend St. Joseph.
"We knew this would be a big challenge," Shideler said. "I thought we had an opportunity at three, maybe four positions. They just outplayed us."
The lone point for Valpo (13-6) came at No. 3 singles. Derek Wappel won the first set 6-4, then Penn's Stuart Feeley defaulted the match due to an injury.
Shideler said the loss did nothing to sour his team's season.
"We lost five seniors to graduation, and five of our six losses came against ranked opponents," Shideler said. "I thought it was a great year. I just wanted to extend it to one more match."
LaPorte lost the other semifinal 4-1, but the season isn't over for the Slicers (15-8).
The No. 1 doubles team of Josh Cornwell and Bobby Barden won 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) to qualify for the individual doubles tournament.
"I thought (Cornwell and Barden) played really well; they put a lot of balls in play," LaPorte coach Nick Garstka said. "St. Joe had some unforced errors.
"You want to advance as a team, but the season isn't over. That's exciting."
Wheeler junior Jack Hibbard also extended his season with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Chesterton freshman Johny Mario in the individual singles tournament.
Hibbard said the two are friends, attending an offseason camp together at Notre Dame.
"I thought I played pretty well," Hibbard said, "I know (Mario) pretty well, so I had to play well to beat him.
"There wasn't a specific part of my game that was key. I just tried to play my game and control the point. When I got a short ball, I went for it."
Hibbard could possibly play another match Saturday at Portage, but that game's status is uncertain at this point.
Michigan City's No. 1 doubles team of Nicholas Serbert and William Harber defeated Matthew Paluczewski and Corey Fletcher of South Bend Riley 6-2, 6-3. They face Portage's Jon Craig and Kody McGuire today.