HAMMOND | An angry Kristi Hoese used a timeout early in the first game of Saturday's Clark Class 3A Sectional championship to voice her displeasure with Griffith's play.
The verbal lashing took a game to set in, but the Panthers eventually responded and swept the host Pioneers 25-19, 25-14, 25-4 to win their second straight sectional title Saturday night. It was Griffith's third title in four years.
Griffith came into the sectional on three straight losses to Munster, Andrean and Bishop Noll, but Hoese didn't think much of those defeats.
"We came into the sectional with a 0-0 record," the first-year Griffith coach said. "We came in with a positive mindset. We need to play our game and not stoop to other teams' levels, which we tend to do."
Griffith beat Gavit Thursday night but had a tough afternoon semifinal against Lew Wallace, which resulted in a blowout and unsteady play.
Clark (8-22) came out feisty and set Griffith on its heels.
Back-to-back solo block kills by senior Tique Woods gave the Pioneers a 12-11 lead, which caused Hoese to take the timeout. The break didn't deter Clark, which has seen its share of tough luck this season.
"They played the best they could," Clark coach Stephanie Vargas said. "We've overcome injuries and a lot of lineup changes. We lost our senior setter Sara Kruszynski in the third week of the season and we have had to fight back from that.
"The girls have done everything I've asked of them."
The Panthers also responded to their coach's plea to clean up their game.
In the second set, junior setter Rhiannon Kozy served six straight points to give Griffith a 13-6 lead. That run included three kills by senior outside hitter Lisette Roldan and one kill by her freshman sister Talia.
The Panthers maintained control of the set, then took that momentum into the third set -- a 25-4 win -- to sweep the Pioneers.
"Clark came out strong," Hoese said. "They gave us a run for our money. But our girls did a great job. Our passing game allowed us to use our hitting game."
Lisette Roldan finished with 12 kills and Talia Roldan notched 16.
For Lisette, a third sectional title in four years means a lot. She's also had three coaches in four years.
"We really haven't had the best of records," she said, "but I told my teammates that we had nothing to lose. We just needed to play the best we can."
The Panthers will host New Prairie in Tuesday's regional.
Clark advanced to the championship match by beating Hammond 25-21, 25-15, 25-20. In the second semifinal, Griffith beat Lew Wallace 25-10, 25-10, 25-5.