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Crown Point senior Hannah Wold

Crown Point senior Hannah Wold had eight kills and four blocks to lead the Bulldogs to a sweep over Lowell in the Class 4A Crown Point sectional opener.

CROWN POINT — Hannah Wold was so eager for the start of the postseason that the Crown Point senior changed up the practice playlist and then started a dance party prior to the Bulldogs’ Class 4A sectional opener.

Wold carried over those good vibes into Thursday’s match against Lowell as the senior delivered eight kills and four blocks in a 25-13, 25-13, 25-9 win over the Red Devils.

The key to getting Crown Point focused for a potential postseason run? Christmas music.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” Wold said. “Each of our practices have a theme and we’re so excited for the postseason to be here, it feels like the holidays. It helps that we know every word.”

Wold will continue her volleyball career at Purdue Northwest next season, but the 6-foot right side hitter is hoping for a few more weeks of playing with her Crown Point teammates. To lighten the mood before Thursday’s match, Wold helped orchestrate a dance party that got some of the postseason jitters out of the way.

“We’ve worked all season to get to this point,” Wold said. “It’s exciting and it’s heartwarming. To have the chance to play with my best friends out there right now, it’s all I can ask for.”

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Crown Point coach Alison Duncan asked for something else when the season started. Seeing Wold’s potential, she took the senior aside and demanded more after a slow start to the year. It didn’t take long for Wold to comply.

“I’m honest with my athletes and I knew she could do it,” Duncan said. “I pushed her to play harder and to play better. She stepped up her game this season and delivered.”

Wold appreciated the tough love at the beginning of the season and the senior has come back with 159 kills and 36 blocks while helping to lead the Bulldogs (26-6) into a semifinal match with Chesterton on Saturday morning.

“Coach has always been hard on me and always pushed me to be better,” Wold said. “I appreciate that.”

Valparaiso (16-16) will meet Portage in Saturday’s second semifinal after the Vikings dispatched Hobart 25-10, 25-15, 25-5 in Thursday’s nightcap. Freshman Kennedy Wagner had 14 kills, while classmate Camryn Kreul added 21 assists, seven digs and four aces.

“I didn’t make a big deal about it,” Valparaiso coach Katie Lenard said about Wagner and Kreul’s first postseason game. “We’re late into the season and I don’t treat them as freshman anymore. We talked about what we wanted to execute today and we went out and we got it done.”

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