La PORTE — A balanced attack in volleyball is like a robust hitting lineup in baseball.
No matter where you turn, productivity happens.
That proved to be the case for La Porte's volleyball team on Tuesday night.
Behind various contributors, the Slicers started fast and never looked back, sweeping visiting Chesterton in three games, 25-9, 25-17, 25-16, in both teams' Duneland Athletic Conference opener.
“As long as we move the ball around, it really throws their block off,” La Porte's Annalise Warnock said. “And we can just have fun with the ball after that. Once we start talking more, we throw everybody off. And then, we just bang balls on them.”
The Slicers (7-1, 1-0 DAC) began conference play in fine fashion after claiming the outright DAC title last year with a perfect 14-0 record. They didn't trail at all in the first game and were down only twice all night against the Trojans (3-1, 0-1 DAC).
La Porte began quickly in Game 1 and set the tone for the match.
“I'm really pleased with how we played tonight,” Slicers coach Cassie Holmquest said. “I kind of feel like we haven't been playing up to our full potential lately, so we kind of switched some things up in practice Monday hoping that gives us a little more energy to come out for this first DAC match.”
Holmquest added the team played some games in practice that the players enjoy playing and are fun, and Holmquest even played with the team to break up the monotony in practice.
It certainly seemed to work.
At the outset of the opening game, La Porte took command. It jumped ahead 8-3 and never led by less than four the rest of that game. It spread the ball around and pounced on Chesterton’s miscues. The Slicers built a 14-4 cushion and sealed the first game, 25-9, after their block and the visitors’ carry. Aniya Kennedy and Cheyanne Seymour led the team at the net in Game 1.
In the second game, it was tight early. The Trojans took their first lead of the match, 2-1, but later, La Porte went ahead 10-8. It then took a double-digit advantage at 21-11 and wasn’t challenged the remainder of that contest, winning it 25-17 following another block. Kennedy and Warnock guided the Slicers offensively, with contributions from numerous other players. Near the end of that game, the squad's serving was stalwart, paced by Olivia Voelker, who had back-to-back aces to make it 19-10.
La Porte again capitalized on the visitors' errors in Game 3 and built an early five-point lead. Warnock had three straight kills to make it 13-5 in that game and force a Trojans' timeout.
“It was just crazy,” Warnock said. “It's a great feeling to know I can do that and to have my team behind me, we can all do it.”
The Slicers' advantage then ballooned to 12 before Chesterton cut it to eight a few times, including 20-12. La Porte's lead wasn't in jeopardy, though, and it claimed that game and the match, 25-16, after Seymour's kill.
Kennedy paced the Slicers with eight kills, followed by Warnock with seven kills. Justine Talbert notched six kills and five blocks, and Voelker earned 14 digs, two aces and had no service errors. Seymour added 10 digs, while Paige Conklin had 16 assists and four blocks. Halle Seaburg chipped in 11 assists and a pair of aces.
“Cheyanne (Seymour) played really well tonight,” Holmquest continued. “And Annalise (Warnock) played well. Aniya (Kennedy) led us in kills. Aniya and Justine (Talbert), our middle blockers did good tonight. Defensively, we looked good tonight, we picked up the tip, which is something we've kind of struggled with.”
The coach added a balanced attack is challenging to defend.
“It's a big advantage,” she said. “We can set front row. We have Cheyanne (Seymour) and Annalise (Warnock) who play all the way around, so that gives us a back-row attack. It gives us a lot of options.”
La Porte's junior varsity won 25-22, 25-15.
La Porte 25-25-25, Chesterton 9-17-16
The Slicers’ Olivia Voelker tallied 14 digs, two aces and had no service errors.