MERRILLVILLE | Outdoor sports are often truncated, postponed or canceled by occurrences such as rain, snow or darkness.
Wednesday’s Northwest Crossroads Conference finale between Munster and Andrean was supposed to be played more than a month ago, but it was postponed.
The match wasn’t snowed or rained out. It was cooked out. Extreme September heat plus a lack of air conditioning at Andrean led to early dismissal and the postponement of all after-school events.
While the weather is much more temperate now, there have been at least a few fires boiling behind the scenes at Andrean.
Coach Julie Wiejak resigned Monday, and for one night the team didn’t have a coach, though players spent all night making signs and T-shirts supporting Wiejak. Tuesday they hosted Highland and found out only a few moments before the match that Wiejak was asked back by administrators. The Chicago resident didn’t make it to the match, but assistant Meagan Skinner led Andrean to an adrenaline-fueled sweep.
However, the home team was emotionally drained as conference rival and Times No. 3 Munster came in and swept the 59ers 25-18, 25-16, 25-17 to finish 12-0 in the NCC.
Andrean played without regular libero Marisa Beemsterboer, who was not at the game. Wiejak refused comment on Beemsterboer’s absence.
“We knew they were going to come back with a lot of energy (Wednesday) from all the drama with their coach and all that,” Munster senior hitter Elizabeth Kloos said. “We saw that they didn’t have their libero, and we already knew who their big hitters were and the angles they like to take.”
Kloos had 10 attack kills and three block kills, and Toni DalleCarbonare led the Mustangs with 11 kills and 13 digs. Blaire Barnett served up four aces and eight set assists.
Munster (28-4, 12-0) simply played its style and, after falling behind 5-0 in the opening set, controlled the short match throughout the night.
“I think we’re intimidating to other teams because we are Munster, and coming in undefeated and tough to play against,” Kloos said. “We have a lot of confidence going into the postseason. We beat all those teams and know we can again.”
Despite not practicing for 10 days, Times No. 4 Andrean (23-8, 9-3) was fired up with Wiejak back on the sidelines looking to put the recent past behind her. However, Munster refused to lose.
“We were fearless,” Munster coach Tracy Summers said. “Knowing that we have a target on our backs, it doesn’t bother us. We just go hard and keep doing what we do and getting better for sectionals.”
Andrean, which concludes the regular season today with senior night, is also looking forward to the postseason and, aside from uncertainty with Beemsterboer, persevering.
“My talk with the administration (Tuesday) was awesome,” Wiejak said. “I’m happy to be back. I’m pleased with the support they’re offering me, and that’s all I could ask for. I was showing up today to put it behind me.”
Matches and practices called on account of brewing tumult had the Niners off their routine. The seniors had Wednesday afternoon off as most of the rest of the school took the PSAT, and the absence of Beemsterboer forced other defensive specialists out of position and forced atypical lineups on the floor.
“My team was ready, and I saw so many of the adjustments we made to play Munster,” Wiejak said. “I think they kept floating in and out of an emotional state where they’ve been through a lot this week and they’re just trying to deal with that, and it causes a loss of focus.
“I’m really proud of them. … I asked them to their best, and if right now that’s what their best is, I can’t fault them for that because this week has been emotional.”