MUNSTER | As the celebration on the volleyball court was at its peak, one Munster player stared up at the banners on the walls and pointed — "Right there, it will say: 2011."
The Mustangs ended a 15-year regional championship drought with a 23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 15-10 win over Valparaiso on Tuesday with a balanced attack and young playmakers.
After Valpo rallied and scored the last four points to win the first game, Munster (31-7) forced the Vikings (33-5) into a multitude of errors to capture the second and third games.
"It's amazing to me how we just came together as a team," said Munster outside hitter Lauren Macadlo, who had 12 kills and a pair of aces. "This year we're better at keeping together and not getting down, and we're really good at coming back and showing that we can come back."
The Mustangs' attack, led statistically by sophomore Shannon Farrell, who had 17 kills, was buoyed by its diversity. Munster setters Jamie Rogalski (23 assists) and Morgan Switalla (11 assists) used every offensive weapon to find the holes on the floor.
"We have six players that, at all times on the court — and we're so deep that I played everyone on the varsity roster — and I know that any of them can make that play," Munster coach Tracy Afman said. "I just emphasized to the girls that we as a team beat other teams because we go at them and at them and at them."
Valparaiso forced the final set behind the swift arm of Brigid Scannell, who had six of her 21 kills in the fourth game. After taking a 4-3 lead, the Vikings led the entire match, not allowing a Munster rally.
"We weren't able to keep it together for long-enough spurts," Valpo coach Katie Lenard said. "We'd have a few good plays and let them get a run on us, then a few good plays and let them get a longer run on us. Their spurts of time were a lot longer than ours."
The Vikings briefly lost the services of setter Tarrah Laskey, who finished with 62 assists, 12 digs and five block assists. Laskey shook off the surprise of whipping herself into the stands after a ball in the first game, then was taken out at the end of the third game when she bent her knee backwards. The junior returned for the fourth game.
After taking a one-point lead in the fifth set, Munster rattled off four straight points with a kill and three aces from sophomore middle hitter Elizabeth Kloos for the final advantage the 'Stangs would need.
On Aug. 18, Valpo swept Munster in a three-game match on the same field house floor where the Mustangs hoisted the regional title plaque.
"It's amazing to win regionals," Macadlo said. "I'm sure all the other girls from the past are so happy for us right now and they want to be here with us."