ST. JOHN | Julianne Epperson's mind is clear.
No matter what came a play or two before, be it a good dig or a bad hit, the Lake Central senior is focused on what's next.
"Growing up in (volleyball), you learn that it is rally scoring, so you have to be able to produce the next point," Epperson said. "Once the game's over, you can really fully realize all you did good, and then you can enjoy it."
"She's a rock out there," Lake Central volleyball coach Tina Tinberg said. "Nothing fazes Julianne. She's able to take a mistake, throw it behind her and move on to the next. She stays very composed, and that's the experience as a senior."
Epperson's clear head and constant leadership of a young team has helped the Indians reach today's Class 4A Huntington North Semistate against Carmel in a match slated to start at approximately 11:30 a.m.
Though she's on the roster as an outside hitter, her defense has made the biggest impact in the postseason. Epperson notched 30 digs in the five-game sectional championship match against Munster and another 12 in the three-game regional title match against Valparaiso.
"The value of her back-row play is going to be awfully tough to replace that kind of player on our floor," Tinberg said. "That is deflating to big hitters who are used to a big kill. If you want to hit inside our court, it's going to be tough to get balls down. Anything that's falling on the inside of our court, normally we can get to it."
Since beating LaPorte in five games Oct. 4, the Indians (28-9) have found themselves in the proverbial zone. They are peaking as the calendar turned to playoffs, and Epperson said it feels good.
"We learned the most about our team (against LaPorte) and how hard we can work to win and how badly we want it, we can come out on top," Epperson said. "We've always gotten along since summer conditioning, but after that game we realized we've really become a family and that we can accomplish anything."
"They should be so proud of all that they've accomplished," Tinberg said. "They play with lots of heart and as a whole unit. I hope they know that they're part of something unique and special."
Epperson tied a team high with five aces in the second LaPorte match of the Duneland Athletic Conference season and added 12 digs and nine kills. Her 56 aces this season make her among the top three on the team.
"She's been serving very aggressively the second half of the season," Tinberg said. "I'm a big believer of aggressive serving, because it takes teams out of sequence."