HAMMOND | Shannon Doyle’s unbelievable hit from the horizontal position on the volleyball court came because she didn’t move her feet at the right time.
“I was thinking ‘If I’d just moved a little bit, I’d be trying to pass this and not send it over the net,’” the Wheeler middle hitter said.
But as the ball sailed toward Bishop Noll’s side of the net, the Warriors were as surprised as the fans, and ran into the net, causing an error that ended the second game. Wheeler remained unbeaten in the Greater South Shore Conference thanks to a 25-19, 25-22, 25-21 win over Noll on Thursday.
“Shannon is a great player and she stepped up today, but I have eight seniors who have goals,” Wheeler coach Alisha Polite said. “One of their goals is to finish strong in the conference. This helps them achieve that goal.”
Last season, the Bearcats tied for the GSSC title with Whiting. Only Calumet next week stands in the way of an unbeaten record for Wheeler (24-2, 6-0).
“We cannot take this win for granted,” Doyle said. “Tons of ups to Bishop Noll, they’ve got a lot of good hitters and we knew we cannot underestimate them.”
Despite falling behind early, Noll didn’t back down from the conference fight.
Behind 8-2 in the first few minutes of the first game, Bishop Noll called a timeout. After the Warriors regained their composure, they settled into a 12-5 rally capped by a hitting error on Wheeler that gave Noll a 14-13 lead. Junior Carissa Jones and senior Breanna Banske were each credited with three kills in the rally run.
The Bearcats relied on senior star Doyle to help with the comeback. Doyle made four kills and two aces down the stretch and was joined by kills from senior Natalie Roe and freshman Jordynn Parks to complete the first game win. Doyle finished the game with 14 kills, Roe had seven and fellow senior Haley Plothow had 10.
“Every time we’ve gotten into a tough situation, we’ve kind of cowered,” Doyle said. “Tonight we were standing strong. That was awesome to see.”
After Bishop Noll took a 6-4 lead in the second game, Wheeler went on a 12-0 run, behind five aces from Haley Plothow and five unforced errors from the Warriors.
Bishop Noll went on a late 7-0 run in the second game, but by that point the Bearcats had built a nine-point lead. Doyle ended the game with the long hit from a sprawled position.
Bishop Noll junior Carissa Jones led all hitters with 15 kills and Breanna Banske chipped in 17 assists.
“That’s our young factor,” Noll coach Dave Rodriguez said. “What I want my kids to learn from this one is the importance of playing together as a team. We have to ride the wave. When we’re on a run, we’re really on.”