WASHINGTON TWP. | Lindsey Henry has known volleyball success during her four years at Washington Twp.
She's won a sectional title in each of her four years, including Saturday's victory over Kouts.
But coming into this season, no one knew what would happen.
Kevin Labaj took over the Class 1A program from Scott Campbell, and the Senators had graduated six seniors.
"There were a lot of different feelings," Henry said. "I was nervous and a little scared. You didn't know if he would change how you hit or how you served. But the change has been a lot better. We've improved. He's focused on our mistakes and how to change them."
Labaj helped change the Senators players but the results were the same: another sectional title, the fifth straight for Washington Twp. (22-10).
The Senators face Pioneer tonight in the Pioneer Regional.
"They had a sectional similar to ours," said Labaj, who was an assistant coach at South Central, Marquette Catholic and Michigan City. "They lost three big outside hitters from last year, but they are young and good. We should be right there with them."
Labaj thinks the Senators are prepared because of their regular-season schedule. They've played close matches with Wheeler, Hanover Central, New Prairie and Knox.
"I try to base our season on playing as tough of opponents as we can to show what we are made of," Labaj said.
Labaj knows he can count on his senior outside hitters Henry and Ashley Hines.
"Ashley always has a smile and you know it's genuine," Labaj said. "She keeps the girls' spirits high.
"Lindsey has been a huge outside hitter for us. She shows a lot of leadership. I can tell she wants to win."
Labaj said Henry, who is 5-foot-4, is a vocal leader who is also aware of her surroundings.
"She knows what she does and she corrects it," he said. "She understands what I want from her. I'm blessed to have her."
Henry, who is the president of the student council and a member of SADD and NHS, takes her stature seriously.
"I know at my height I'm unassuming," she said. "Coach has taught me how to hit around blocks. I look for the angles and for the lines. I know to adjust my game to my opponents."
Henry said attending several leadership conferences for school has helped, as well as relying on her teammates.
"I know I have to be a leader. I have to have confidence and set an example. I know I have to be different from everyone else," said Henry, who has played volleyball since fifth grade. "I used to get down on myself, especially after a mistake. But my teammates were always picking me up and telling me to shake it off. So now that's how I lead.
"It's really about your point of view. It's definitely made me a better player. Before I would get down on myself and it would hurt my performance. I definitely have a change in attitude."
Washington is hoping for a different regional outcome.
"We have a good chance," Henry said. "They have a big fan base and two years ago it was crazy playing there, but you just have to get into your zone and focus."