FULTON | A change of strategy was all it took.
The Washington Township defense was thrown off on Saturday morning when Lafayette Central Catholic changed its plan of attack and the Knights took advantage with a 3-1 win in the semifinal round of the Class A Caston semistate.
“We practice hard all week. We practiced for them,” Senators head coach Kevin Labaj said. “They just switched some of their game plan up and we weren’t ready for it.”
Washington Twp. won a back-and-forth first set 30-28, but then was beaten 25-17, 25-21, 25-17.
In the second game, LCC jumped out to a 10-3 lead but Washington Twp. cut it to 10-8 with a five-point run served by Caitlyn Lembke. After a timeout, LCC won eight of the next 11 points, forcing Washington Twp. to call a timeout trailing 18-11. The Senators won three straight points out of the break but LCC took seven of the next 10 to earn a 25-17 win and tie the match.
For the most part, Washington Twp.’s big outside hitters were taken out of the match by the LCC attack, some receiving miscues by the Senators.
“I think there were a lot of mental mistakes that we made passing-wise, whether it was nerves or whatever,” Labaj said. “The sets that we did get (on offense), we didn’t use them as well as we could have.”
The third set was a heartbreaker for Washington Twp., which led 10-4 early but allowed LCC to tie the match 11-11 and then take a 13-11 lead during a string of seven straight points for the Knights. The game was tied as late as 20-20, but LCC won five of the next six points for a 25-21 win and 2-1 match lead.
In the fourth and final set, LCC jumped out to a 13-6 lead but Washington Twp. got back into it thanks to a five-point run that included a big ace from Lauren Kleist. LCC answered with a four-point run but the Senators responded with four straight to make it 17-15 before LCC took eight of the last 10 points to win the set 25-17 and the match 3-1.
Washington Twp. led the marathon first set until a 14-14 tie, at which point the Senators did not lead again until 28-27. LCC tied it 28-28, but Washington Twp. won the next two points to win the set 30-28.
“I think that we pushed so hard that first set that we started out slow in the second,” Labaj said. “Maybe (we) thought they were going to lay down and they didn’t, and (we) were surprised.”