HAMMOND | Clark coach Stephanie Vargas has a unique way of firing up her girls: she celebrates with them when one of them gets a kill.
"I yell and get excited, because I think it's a better way of coaching than yelling at them if they make a mistake," she said.
Vargas did a lot of celebrating Tuesday night as Clark ousted Hammond 25-18, 25-13, 21-25, 25-21 in one of the opening-round matches of the Class 3A Clark Sectional. Gavit (16-12) dominated Roosevelt 25-14, 25-6, 25-14 in the first match on the strength of three different streaks of at least seven straight points in each of the three games.
After battling to an early tie in the first game, Clark (9-17) took over, scoring eight of the next 10 points to secure the early win. The sectional host took that momentum into the second game, as jumping out to an 11-2 lead.
After a pep talk from coach Lisa Owens, Hammond opened a third-game lead of 6-2, before Clark crept to within three. The Wildcats staved off early elimination by breaking Clark's serve four straight times.
"We don't like to take anyone for granted and because we've played them so much, there's some familiarity there and it gets harder to beat a team," Vargas said.
Hammond showed its moxy in the fourth game by keeping pace with Clark, which led the entire game, but the Pioneers won nine of the last 14 points to finish off the city foe.
"Our attacking isn't a concern," Vargas said. "But our passing in the back row has to improve because we've been working on it all season and gotten better."
In the opening match, Roosevelt (14-6) couldn't really get any rallies going, as the Panthers couldn't compete with the depth of Gavit.
"We put in a lot of subs tonight," Gavit coach Amy Woynaroski said. "We're not too worried about any rust that might come our way, because we've had a lot of games recently and should still be ready to go come Thursday."