HAMMOND | According to senior outside hitter Ashley Wolf, it wasn't going to happen again.
"We had a different attitude, a different mindset coming in to today," Wolf said. "We were in it to win it, and we weren't going home without that trophy."
That was the sectional trophy Wolf was referring to, and Gavit did indeed take it home. The Gladiators halted Clark's consecutive sectional streak at three with a five-set 19-25, 25-11, 25-17, 22-25, 15-9 win.
Wolf had two aces and seven kills in the championship match.
After dropping the first set, the Gladiators rallied behind Crystal Gilbert (24 assists, three aces) and Wolf to win the next two.
But the Pioneers wouldn't give up their crown easily. Freshman Sara Kruszynski nailed five of her nine kills in the fourth set to send the match to a fifth and final set.
"We came in today very aware of how many sectionals we had won, and wanted to keep it going," Kruszynski said.
But the Gladiators were able to put together a pair of 4-0 runs in the fifth set to atone for last year's tough sectional loss.
"We were up 2-0 last year and let it slip away," Gavit coach Amy Woynaroski said. "We talked all week about the ability to finish."
Clark coach Stephanie Ihnat gave credit where it was due.
"I don't think our girls played badly, or gave it away," Ihnat said. "Gavit came in here and played exceptionally well. They earned it today. Our hats are off to them."
The Pioneers advanced to the championship round by defeating Hammond High 25-13, 25-9, 21-25, 25-16 earlier in the day. Gavit advanced when it beat Roosevelt 25-8, 25-13, 25-11.
Clark won the first two semifinal sets handily before the Wildcats staged a rally and took the third one. The fourth set was tied at 5-5 before the Pioneers rattled off 12 straight points to effectively seal the deal.
Gavit advances to the regional next Tuesday at, where it will play the winner of the Sectional 18 match between Knox and Andrean.