Sydney Dixon has never been one to buy into the big school vs. small school hype.
Dixon didn’t do it when she picked where she’d play college volleyball next fall and she didn’t do it when she helped lead Boone Grove to wins over Chesterton and Portage last weekend at the Chesterton Invitational.
Dixon, who verbally committed to Walsh University in Ohio earlier this summer, has always chosen to focus on the bigger picture instead of getting locked into labels given by others.
“I knew that I didn’t want to go Division I,” Dixon said of choosing Walsh, a Division II school in Canton. “I love volleyball, but it’s not my life. There are other things that I enjoy doing. It didn’t matter to me what level I was going.”
Dixon has always played at a high level for the Wolves. The 5-foot-10 outside hitter was named the Porter County Conference Player of the Year last season and she’s followed that up with a strong senior campaign. Dixon leads the Wolves (14-4) with 323 kills and 290 digs. Her talent was on full display last weekend when small-school Boone Grove swept Chesterton and Portage in back-to-back matches. While schools from the PCC knocking off Duneland Athletic Conference opponents seems rare, that fact never occurred to Dixon.
“I don’t look at it like we’re playing a big school or a school from a big conference,” Dixon said. “I look at it like this is the team that’s next up. Playing against DAC teams wasn’t the reason we got hyped up for those matches. It was a major accomplishment for us to finally have everything go right for us. It was a turning point.”
Boone Grove coach Matt Bien looks at things a bit more big picture than Dixon and he understands the Wolves are underdogs to outsiders when a big school is on the other side of the net. That doesn’t mean he didn’t believe his team could win and that he didn’t revel in taking home the trophy from the Chesterton Invite. Dixon was named the tourney MVP.
“Our girls, led by our six seniors, had a great attitude,” Bien said. “They answered the bell and this should do wonders for our confidence going forward.”
The Wolves are 3-0 in the PCC and have four more conference games remaining before they play LaCrosse in the first round of the PCC tournament at the end of the month.
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Noll staying positive
Bishop Noll coach Dave Rodriguez has been around long enough to know that a record in August and September can only do so much come October. Winning in the early season doesn’t guarantee postseason success anymore than losing guarantees an early exit from sectionals.
It’s why Rodriguez has been able to remain positive as the Warriors (7-12) have struggled through the beginning stages of the season. Getting his full roster back is helping as well. A handful of players have missed matches this season, including junior setter Rose Fuentes and senior middle Isabella Navarro.
“We’re better than our record indicates,” Rodriguez said before the Warriors swept Lake Station last week. “We’re getting everybody back and we’re starting to play well together.”
Youth movement for Valpo
Players have shuffled in and out of Valparaiso’s lineup all season, but two near-constants have remained for the Vikings. Freshman Camryn Kreul has played 54 of a possible 55 sets this season while classmate Kennedy Wagner has missed just two sets.
Kreul leads the Vikings with 321 assists and is fourth on the team with 105 digs. Wagner leads Valparaiso with 172 kills, 20 aces and is tied for the team lead with 16 solo blocks. While the wins haven’t always been there for the Vikings (7-11), the freshmen are getting experience.
“I’m definitely encouraged by their progress,” Valparaiso coach Katie Lenard said. “They were good players coming in, but the thing I love about both of them is they know they can get better. They both ask questions and are very coachable. The sky is the limit with both of them.”