La PORTE — It took a mere matter of moments for La Porte's volleyball team to take control on Tuesday night.
From there, Michigan City provided little resistance.
Behind exceptional serving and an array of weapons, the Slicers jumped ahead very quickly and never looked back, routing the rival Wolves in three games, 25-14, 25-4, 25-5, in a brisk match.
“We moved the ball around really well,” La Porte's Lexi Joyner said. “And we swung really fast and our passes were usually on.”
Despite nearly being out of the Duneland Athletic Conference race, the Slicers (21-5, 9-2 DAC) picked apart City (11-11, 3-8 DAC) and did it in a business-like manner. They built an early 9-0 cushion in the opening game, then reeled off a remarkable 17 straight points to begin Game 2. The third game was more of the same, as the Slicers led 13-3.
La Porte wasn't seriously challenged in any of the games.
“It was very lackluster,” said City coach and former Slicers freshman coach Jim Kaufman. “They don't have as much heart as they did in the beginning of the year and we've seriously regressed. I tell the girls, 'I don't care if we lose if we play well,' but right now we're not playing well.”
La Porte immediately took command in Game 1.
It scored nine consecutive points to build a 9-0 advantage with Paige Conklin's stalwart serving. The lead never dropped below six the rest of that game, as the Slicers claimed it 25-14 after City’s serve out of bounds. Aniya Kennedy and Joyner each paced La Porte offensively in the opening game, as the Wolves didn't have an answer for the Slicers' attack.
“We just served them tough,” La Porte coach Cassie Holmquest said of the fast start. “Also, our blocking. They hit a few and we stopped them with the block. We were also consistent with our serves. We didn't miss a lot of serves. Once Paige Conklin, who's one of our better servers, went back and hit off a lot in a row, that was key.”
In the second contest, Conklin's serving again set the tone, resulting in a 17-0 cushion. The junior setter earned four aces in that run, while Kennedy and Joyner again dominated at the net. The Slicers also pounced on the visitor's mistakes, resulting in a 25-4 win in Game 2.
La Porte went ahead 10-3 in the last game and built on that lead. Annalise Warnock was especially effective offensively, aiding her team's commanding 19-3 advantage. Halle Seaburg tallied three straight aces in that game as well.
Joyner finished with a team-high 10 kills and just a pair of errors.
“We set her a lot,” Holmquest added. “She was able to find the hole in the block. She was consistent with her hit.”
Joyner said her and Kennedy moved positions to try and keep the offense fresh.
“I was just trying to run middle balls,” Joyner said. “Because usually when I'm over here, I try and run outside balls. But me and Aniya (Kennedy) just switched. We're starting to get more and more comfortable with it as the season goes on. So they'll be more of it when we get into the sectional.”
Warnock had eight kills, and Kennedy recorded seven kills and four blocks. Conklin tallied 19 assists, 10 digs, five kills and a team-best seven aces, while Olivia Voelker posted 12 digs. Seaburg added nine assists and four aces, and Cheyanne Seymour chipped in four blocks.
Micah Ruhe led City with eight digs, while Ellery Dolezal notched six digs and two kills. Alexa Sparks had six assists, to go along with three digs, and Samantha Jasinski and Aaliyah Briggs both added a pair of kills.
After getting a little too comfortable with leads at times this year, La Porte didn't let up on Tuesday.
“It was good to see,” Holmquest said. “We struggle with that a little bit where we get up by several points, and then we kind of struggle to keep the lead. We start to become complacent. So we really talked about that Monday, that we weren't going to be complacent. We were not tonight.”
City played reserves the latter part of the match, giving those players some experience.
“I like to get them in when we can,” Kaufman said. “They need some strength. They're young. They haven't played at the varsity level. One of them is a freshman. And actually, some of them did alright.”
La Porte's junior varsity rolled 25-10, 25-12.
La Porte 25-25-25, Michigan City 14-4-5
The Slicers’ Lexi Joyner earned 10 kills.