PORTER TWP. | Nicole Malouhos has a philosophy when it comes to battling back from a deficit that the Boone Grove senior could very well apply to winning a sectional championship.
"We need to take things one by one," Malouhos said. "It's my little saying and my teammates make fun of me for it all the time."
The Wolves got the first one out of the way Thursday night as Malouhos led the host Wolves with 13 kills in a 25-11, 25-21, 25-23 win over River Forest in the Class 2A sectional.
Boone Grove will take on Bishop Noll in Saturday's second semifinal while Hebron and Whiting will meet in the opener.
"We all act like Nicole is our mom and that (her saying) is a very mom-like thing to say," Boone Grove senior Sky Hall said. "But she's right, you can't score more than one point at a time in volleyball."
The Wolves (19-9) raced out to a 16-3 lead in the first game and never struggled in the first two games as Malouhos and Hall overpowered a youthful River Forest squad. It wasn't until the third game when the Wolves started to stutter a bit on the floor.
"Volleyball is a tough sport because when you go up 2-0, teams tend to take a deep breath in that third game and relax," Boone Grove coach Linda Eleftheri said. "We've got to remind them that the match isn't over until you win that third game."
Malouhos' philosophy showed up in the third game when the Ingots (12-14) took a 14-9 lead. Instead of pressing, the Wolves stayed compose and rattled off a 10-1 run to take command of the match.
"Coach told us this week that it was just time to play volleyball," Malouhos said. "Come tournament time you just need to go out and do it."
Caylyn Bellar and Alondra Avalos led the Ingots with eight kills apiece while Alexis Nuzzo added 20 digs. Coach Patty Sparks had a team primarily comprised of underclassmen on the court as the Ingots had just two seniors in uniform.
"For us to be a young team and to be able to contend tonight, I have to give my girls a lot of respect," Sparks said. "This was the first sectional experience for a lot of them and we gained so much experience."
The Warriors made quick work of Bowman Academy in the nightcap, defeating the Eagles 25-2, 25-7, 25-3.
"We focused on our serve and covered well tonight," Bishop Noll coach David Rodriguez said. "We'll take that momentum into Saturday's game against a very good Boone Grove team."