Olivia Panepinto (copy)

Olivia Panepinto is the third Crown Point senior to commit to a Division I program.

Olivia Panepinto’s long recruiting process came to an end last week with an offer and a tearful reply.

The Crown Point senior setter verbally committed to Indiana last week and plans to enroll in Bloomington after she graduates high school in January. Panepinto will join former Crown Point teammate Peyton Yelich on the roster next year.

“I went down there three weeks ago and then got the phone call and offer on Thursday,” Panepinto said. “I cried on the phone. Waiting until your senior year, it’s stressful. People said that I just have to trust the process and everything worked out for me. I’m so happy.”

Panepinto is second on the Bulldogs with 318 assists, and has 20 aces and 95 digs this season. Her numbers could be more impressive but for a leg injury at the beginning of the season. That required surgery and caused Panepinto to miss the first five matches of the year.

“(The injury) made me nervous because I wondered if it was going to affect (recruiting),” Panepinto said. “I worked hard to get back what I had lost and it pushed me more. It was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to sit back and get the recruiting process going.”

Panepinto is the fourth member of Crown Point’s Class of 2020 to give a verbal commitment. Savana Chacon (Purdue), Maddie Banter (Grand Canyon) and Hannah Wold (Purdue Northwest) all plan continue playing at the next level.

“For a lot of these kids that play volleyball seriously, their goal is to play collegiately,” Crown Point coach Alison Duncan said. “I’m always so overjoyed when you can see their dreams come true.”

With her decision out of the way, Panepinto looks forward to concentrating on closing out the Duneland Athletic Conference slate and begin what she hopes is a long postseason run next week.

“I can’t stress it enough how reliving it is to have this over with,” Panepinto said. “It’s a great feeling knowing you’re going to a program that’s bigger than you are. Knowing I don’t have to send out a whole bunch of emails and now I can really focus on the goal of winning in the postseason.”

Morton set to return for Munster

Munster coach Brett Boden is eager to have his full complement of players this week as sophomore libero Sarah Morton (knee) is expected to make her season debut.

Morton led the Mustangs with 357 digs and was third on the team with 50 aces last season. The sophomore has been cleared to return to action and has been practicing in recent weeks.

“Sarah is very close to returning and we thought it might originally be this week,” Boden said after last Thursday’s win over Andrean. “We wanted to be better safe than sorry.”

Senior Imani Kemp has more than met the challenge in Morton’s absence this season. Kemp leads the Mustangs with 235 digs and has added 20 aces. Boden referred to Kemp as Munster’s “sparkplug” this year.

“I’m still going to fight for my spot,” Kemp said. “It’s been important for me to keep up the energy for the team this season and I’m going to keep doing that.”

Cherokees are the champs

Morgan Twp. won its second straight Porter County Conference tournament on Friday night, defeating Boone Grove in four games.

The two programs have met in the PCC tournament in each of the last five years with one of the two going on to win the tournament in each of those seasons.

“It’s been awesome for it to come down to Morgan and Boone,” Morgan Twp. coach Amy Bolen said. “(Boone Grove coach) Matt (Bien) has been such an influence on me and they played amazing. It was a really fun evening.”

Sahara Bee was named the PCC Player of the Year after the match and she was one of four Morgan Twp. players named to the all-conference team.

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