KOUTS | Kouts coach Karyl VanDyke said her team spent a week's practice time working on strategies to thwart Washington Township senior outside hitter Vickie Flanders.
Flanders rose both to the occasion and over those plans, leading the Class A No. 5 Senators to their fourth-straight crown with a 27-25, 25-10, 25-19 victory over the host Fillies in Saturday afternoon's sectional championship.
"We knew they would go to her," VanDyke said. "She's a great player, and she just hits it with a lot of control. It's tough to defend her."
In a seesaw first game, Flanders had eight of her total 14 kills -- including two to clinch the opener.
"She's hard to simulate; we don't have any one to simulate her in our practices," Washington Township coach Scott Campbell said of Flanders. "She's got great elevation, so she can see the court really well. She knows where to go with it."
Flanders added 12 kills in a 25-3, 25-5, 25-16 semifinal win over LaCrosse -- just part of another dominating day for the senior.
"This is what we've been working for all year," Flanders said. "My beating heart was pumping so fast."
Flanders was anything but a one-person offensive assault for the Senators. Classmate Kerry Urhina added nine kills. Setter Raegan Werner had three straight key kills, giving the Senators some breathing room at 14-10 in the third game, and sophomore middle hitter Maddy Johnson ended the match with a kill.
"We have six hitters that hit ball well," Campbell said. "Raegan gave us three points when we saw they had a small wall.
"If they stop Vickie, we have other players that will step up."
Kouts (17-10) couldn't stop Flanders, and the Fillies also made some uncharacteristic mistakes that worked against them in the opening game.
"We were called for illegal alignment, and we haven't been called for that all year," VanDyke said. "Sarah (Clemens) had a great opportunity (for wide-open kill) and just didn't make the right decision (on a miss hit).
"Each point was huge in that game."
Kouts advanced to the championship with a 28-26, 25-16, 12-25, 25-12 win over Morgan Township in the semifinals. Clemens and Brianne Fankhauser each finished with 13 total kills, while libero Lexi Sippel had 30 total digs.