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WATCH NOW: Munster clinches first state title berth with sweep of McCutcheon
Girls volleyball | Class 4A semistate

WATCH NOW: Munster clinches first state title berth with sweep of McCutcheon

From the Banner day: Two state champions, a state berth and second-place finish series
  • Updated
Sarah Morton, Munster

Munster's Sarah Morton, left, had 17 digs in a Class 4A semistate win over McCutcheon on Saturday.

LAFAYETTE — Sarah Morton walked off the floor on Saturday afternoon with a swollen cheek and a wide smile.

The Munster junior paid a price to help lead the Mustangs to their first state title appearance in program history with a 25-20, 25-20, 25-21 win over McCutcheon in a Class 4A semistate Saturday.

Morton encapsulated Munster’s approach to the match when she dove headfirst into the bleachers. The libero saved the point and stayed in the game as the Mustangs were in total control from start to finish.

“I missed last season (with an injury), so there was no way I was coming out of this match,” Morton said. “I look like I was in a fistfight, but I’m going to have to die in order to be stopped.

The Mustangs (33-2) will play next Saturday at Worthen Arena on Ball State's campus against Yorktown.

Morton had a tall task coming into the match as McCutcheon sophomore Chloe Chicoine is one of the most highly sought recruits in the country. Chicoine had 530 kills on the season, including 73 last weekend as the Mavericks knocked off Carroll and No. 1 Hamilton Southeastern to get to semistate.

“No balls hit the floor,” Morton said when asked of her approach to defending Chicoine. “She’s a great player, but we have a great team. We weren’t going to let the reputation of one player beat us.”

The Mustangs were methodical in their domination on Saturday. Every player did their job without fanfare. Lourdes Torres had 12 kills, Marina Gronkiewicz had 32 assists and Morton added 17 digs. Iowa commit Haley Melby had a complete game with nine kills and three aces.

“This was our best volleyball of the season,” Munster coach Brett Boden said. “They executed exactly what we talked about in practice all week.”

Melby set the tone early by pounding the floor after the second point of the match. It was the same display of emotion the junior outside hitter displayed late in last Saturday’s regional title win over Crown Point. Melby was frustrated with herself early on Saturday, but recovered and delivered a game-winning ace to hand Munster the first set.

“I’m a perfectionist,” Melby said. “Instead of letting a mistake bother me for the next five points, I just try to move on. It was a huge thing for us to be consistent.”

McCutcheon (22-8) took an early 5-2 lead in the second game, but the Mustangs came back with eight of the next nine points and they never trailed again. The same happened in the third game as Munster broke an early tie and were in total control throughout the match. It was a carryover from the approach to the match.

“This week we came in to practice ready to work every day,” Morton said. “We checked every box of our scouting report. We nailed it.”

The Mustangs have never appeared in the state championship match and will be making their first trip to the state finals since 1977. Munster played in the state quarterfinals in both 1975 and 1977, losing to South Bend Clay and Muncie Northside, respectively.

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Paul Oren has been a correspondent reporter for The Times since 2005. A member of the United States Basketball Writers Association, Paul has spent more than 15 years covering Valparaiso basketball.

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