MUNSTER — Lourdes Torres wore a satisfied, yet exhausted, look on her face as she walked off the volleyball court Thursday night.
The Munster junior helped pace her team to a 25-20, 25-23, 25-10 win over Andrean in a key Northwest Crossroads Conference match. The Mustangs improved to 22-6 overall and 8-0 in the conference with just two NCC matches remaining.
Torres will worry about winning a conference title next week. As for now, the outside hitter is looking forward to a break after a tough week that included a sweep over Kankakee Valley, a five-set loss to downstate power McCutcheon and the battle with the 59ers.
“Playing Andrean is always an important game for us,” Torres said. “We knew that this was going to be a tough game after the week we had.”
Torres led the Mustangs with 12 kills, but the junior took extended breaks on the sideline along with sophomore Haley Melby (three kills, 10 digs). Munster coach Brett Boden went deeper down his roster as the match unfolded on Thursday and it was all part of design.
“This was a lot about getting rest for our outsides,” Boden said. “Our six-rotation players went to 16-14 in the fifth set last night against McCutcheon. We wanted to be able to keep them fresh.”
If shuffling back and forth to the bench did anything to stop Torres’ rhythm, she certainly never showed it during the match. The junior would sprint onto the court when her number was called and settle into her routine of giving high fives to every teammate she could reach. Tired as she may have been after three grueling matches in four days, Torres never flinched.
“This was really about endurance and keeping the body healthy,” Torres said. “All week we have been making sure to get rest and to eat right. This mentally prepares us going forward.”
The mental and physical preparation is exactly what Boden had in mind when he put McCutcheon on the schedule in the penultimate week of the regular season. Sandwiched between two key conference games, Boden wanted to see how his players would respond to the challenge of playing the Mavericks (24-1) on Wednesday, and if there was any negative carry over to the next day.
“We looked at Wednesday as kind of a playoff rehearsal,” Boden said. “We wanted to start the season with a really strong schedule and make sure that we ended it with a strong schedule as well in order to test us. (This week) helps show us some of our flaws and we still have time to work them out.”
Jillian Moynihan had 10 kills and nine digs to lead the 59ers (14-10, 6-2) while Maddie Kmetz added 26 assists and 12 digs.