LAPORTE | After falling to Crown Point in the second game, Valparaiso volleyball coach Katie Lenard felt her team needed to refocus its energies in Tuesday's first round of the Class 4A LaPorte Sectional.
"We were getting down on ourselves," she said. "Coming into the third game, we needed a fresh attitude.
"We definitely improved. We set better; we were hitting and putting the ball away."
The end result was a 25-21, 24-26, 25-17, 25-13 win over the Bulldogs. Valparaiso (30-3) faces Chesterton at 10 a.m. Saturday in the semifinals. The Trojans defeated Merrillville 25-20, 25-18, 30-28.
Valparaiso junior setter Tarrah Lasky appeared to get the most out of Lenard's talk. Lasky admittedly struggled in the first two games.
"We'd never had these referees before, and I was having a tough time with the (lift) calls," said Lasky, who finished with 56 assists and 20 digs. "(After the second game), I just let it go, and I didn't think about the calls."
The Vikings (30-3) jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third game and scored the first six points of the final game, assuming control and finishing off the Bulldogs (17-14).
Brigid Scannell had 17 kills, while Carrie Clark added 13 and Sara Clark had 10.
"Our energy was much better," said Lasky, whose Vikings defeated Crown Point in two earlier meetings this season. "We knew they would come out strong. We were definitely alerted after that second game."
Courtney Kvachkoff and Alyssa Kvarta each had 10 kills for Crown Point.
Chesterton struggled to close out Merrillville in the final, almost squandering its lead.
"We've had the same things that have happened all year," Chesterton coach TR Harlan said. "There are times when we just mentally check out.
"Mentally, we're going to have to be a lot stronger on Saturday."
Lydia Gill led the Trojans (23-11) with 17 kills, while Shelby Ruffner added 11. Katie Urycki had nine kills and two aces, and Kate Nowak was credited with44 assists.
Megan Dicken and Mryanda Harris led the Pirates (8-27) with nine kills each.