PORTAGE | After a nerve-wracking Portage Regional semifinal match Tuesday, Valparaiso's No. 3 singles player, Katie McDonald, enjoyed a less-stressful setting for Wednesday's championship.
"There just wasn't as much tension on the court," said McDonald, a senior who breezed to a 6-0, 6-0 win and helped the Vikings sweep Hobart 5-0. "The personalities were different, and there was less pressure."
McDonald helped Valpo rally for a 3-2 win against Michigan City on Tuesday, picking up the tying point with a 6-4, 6-4 win over the Wolves' Alante Wright.
On Wednesday, McDonald gave the Vikings (15-4) their first point in the championship.
"The atmosphere was much different," McDonald said. "I kept cool out there. I still had to be ready to play and stay focused."
Valparaiso won all five matches in straight sets to win their eighth regional crown and first since 2009.
Valpo defeated the Brickies 5-0 on April 6, but only Amanda Stolarz at No. 2 doubles was in the same spot for the rematch.
"Everyone was able to talk to their teammates about how to play their opponent," Valparaiso coach Tim Shideler said. "It was a great way to stay focused, because each player was trying to help the other one out.
Shideler was also pleased to see his team get off to a quick start, as Valpo surrendered just nine games over the first set of its matches.
"We wanted to put a little doubt in (Hobart's) head, but put more confidence in ours," he said. "The girls are just getting better every time they play.
"Even yesterday (trailing 2-0), they kept their confidence. These girls will fight to the finish."
Hobart's No. 1 singles player, Reena Childers, battled and almost extended her match, falling 6-2, 7-5 to Kelly Kennedy.
"I was happy the way I played," said Childers, who helped the Brickies (10-10) make their first trip to the regional final. "I didn't play as good as I hoped, but I played to the best of my ability. I was glad to end on a good note."
In individual sectional play, Chesterton's Bobbi Modesto won 6-1, 6-0 over Michigan City's Brooke Foltz. Modesto meets Marquette's Katie Clancy for the crown at 3:30 p.m. today. Also, Michigan City's No. 1 doubles team of Lauren Palmer and Ashleigh Ellenwood defeated Clark's Yesenia Sanchez and Ashley Garivay 6-0, 6-0.