KOUTS | Gabbie Sievers practiced a new serving technique Thursday night, and the move paid off handsomely for LaCrosse.
The Tigers junior middle hitter had aces on her first three service attempts, finishing with 11 ace LaCrosse swept Gary 21st Century Charter 25-2, 25-5, 25-6 in the first round of the Class A Kouts Sectional.
Fifth-ranked and three-time defending sectional champion Washington Township swept Covenant Christian 25-3, 25-7, 25-16 in the nightcap.
The Tigers (4-22) and Senators (29-5) meet in one semifinal Saturday. The host Fillies and Morgan Township meet in the other semifinal.
Sievers shortened the height of her toss, and she had plenty of practice with the new approach in the opening game. Sievers had 10 aces in the first game. A service error ended the run, but she had helped the Tigers build a 23-2 lead.
"I felt really good," said Sievers, who finished 21-of-23 serving with 11 aces. "This helped me swing faster. I was able to work on it more after a few aces."
Tigers coach Patty Rawlings admitted her team didn't know what to expect from the Cougars (0-12), but she felt her team had a positive outlook before the match began.
"We were very pumped up for this," Rawlings said. "We've picked up most of our wins at the end of the season.
"We were ready to play anybody today."
Covenant Christian had a vocal cheering section, but Washington Township made a point to quiet the Knights faithful.
"We talked about that before the game," Senators coach Scott Campbell said. "They brought a lot of people ... We wanted to get off to a good start. You look the scores, and we didn't make a lot of mistakes."
The Senators struggled with bouts of inconsistency in the clinching game before finally eliminating Covenant Christian.
"We kind of got bored," Campbell said. "I switched positions for some people and tried to get others varsity experience.
"I put our starters back in, and they responded."