VALPARAISO | Michigan City coach Ashley Kohler said her Wolves live and die by the plays of their stars.
“Sarah stepped up big for us today,” Kohler said, “and we needed that.”
Kohler was referring to the stellar play of outside hitter Sarah Puckett, who led the Wolves to a three-game sweep of Merrillville in the opening round of the Valparaiso sectional.
The Wolves handled the Pirates 25-17, 25-23, and 25-12.
Michigan City came out of the gate quickly, jumping out to leads of 5-0 and 10-5 in the first game. Puckett drilled several points home to expand the lead to 16-5.
“My net game was very strong today,” Puckett said. “Our passing and set-up was really working well. They made it easy for me.”
Puckett finished with 13 kills and four aces.
Merrillville’s Ashley Hansbury left early in the first game with a knee injury, forcing Coach Luke Starkey to juggle his lineup.
“Not to take anything away from Michigan City, but that injury had a big impact on us,” Starkey said. “After that, everyone played out of position most of the night.”
In the second match, Hobart used an early 7-0 run to take a 9-3 lead in the first game. The Brickies then held on for a tight 25-22 win.
But the Indians used a 9-0 run to blow open an 11-10 score and take the second game 25-14.
With the match tied 1-1, the teams fought through four ties and four lead changes before the Indians prevailed 25-23 to take a 2-1 lead.
Allison Bachman and Madison Beadles led the Portage comeback with strong front line play.
In the fourth game, the Indians (11-21) used a 7-0 run to take the match with a 25-17 win.
“The second time through the DAC we really stepped our game up," Portage Coach Brian Zofkie said. “Our seniors realized the sense of urgency and played well.”
Just the opposite for the Brickies (20-13), according to Coach Kristi Hoese.
“We did not come out ready mentally,” Hoese said. “If you don’t play, you don’t’ win.”