VALPARAISO | Once Valparaiso's volleyball team solved the middle, they solved their entire match against Michigan City.
The Vikings roared back after dropping the first game of the Class 4A sectional championship match with the Wolves to claim a 23-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-11 home victory.
The win was Valparaiso's fourth against Michigan City this season, and will allow the Vikings to host Lake Central in Tuesday's regional.
"That's tough to do, to beat a team four times in a season," Vikings coach Katie Lenard said. "So hat's off to our players."
The Vikings won the crucial third game with strong play in the middle, especially by freshman Anne Clark and senior Madison Olsen.
Clark had three blocks in a four-point Vikings run that gave Valparaiso a 16-8 lead in the third game. Olsen added a pair of blocks down the stretch, with a middle kill by Morgan Nikenas, closing out the game for the Vikings.
With the Wolves hitting long to try to compensate for a closed-down middle, the fourth game was the easiest one for the Vikings to capture. Michigan City committed 10 unforced errors in the last game of the match.
Noelle Eveland finished the match with 12 kills for Valparaiso, while Olsen contributed nine kills and three blocks. The win came on the heels of a five-set semifinal win against Crown Point.
Michigan City jumped out to early leads in the first two games, with different results. In the first game, the Wolves had a nine-point lead before the Vikings mounted a comeback to tie the game at 17. Valparaiso led the first game 23-22, but Michigan City fought back with three-straight points, an ace by Sarah Puckett (10 kills, four aces) closing out the game.
In the second game, the Wolves had a pair of three-point leads early, but the Vikings fought back with a seven-point run to take a 15-11 lead. This time Valparaiso maintained the lead, winning the final four points of the second game, including a block by Tarrah Laskey to close out the game.
"(Michigan City) played great at the start of the game," Lenard said. "We were obviously tired from the earlier match, but once we got our confidence back and our legs back, we were fine."