Stopped short

Lexy Wade

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — The area on a football field inside the 20-yard line is called the red zone.

Execution is essential to scoring with the goal line in sight, much as it is in a close volleyball set when it gets down to the last five points.

"We have to learn that once we get inside the 20, when we take a swing, we can't lollipop it in there," South Central coach Jan Fitzpatrick said. "We can't make errors. We have to play to win."

The Satellites found themselves in a position to claim the second and third sets in Tuesday's Porter County Conference tournament semifinal against Morgan Township, but couldn't apply the finishing touches either time, falling 25-18, 25-23, 25-22, at Dold Gymnasium.

"We've got three people who don't play in the off-season and that inexperience shows at key points in a match," Fitzpatrick said. "In set two, I asked them during a timeout, 'Is anybody nervous?, is anybody scared?' They said no. Volleyball's such an exciting sport with the ebbs and flows. When you play with passion and play the way you're capable of playing, good things happen. We gave them a run for their money. There was just a little indecision."

The Cherokees have a pair of hammers in 6-foot junior Emily Rastovski, a Purdue commit, and 5-11 Sahara Bee, but the Satellites found their bearings after trailing the whole first set. They first led at 11-10 in the second set, were up by as many as four points and were even at 23. They trailed 19-14 in the third set before reeling off five in a row to get even at 19. Both times, Morgan had the final say.

"I'm excited to play against very good players," S.C.'s Allee Garner said. "You get better going against good competition. They were very comparable to New Prairie. New Prairie's just a little more organized. They big thing was (Morgan) kept us on our toes. We had to stay ready for them or they caught us standing back. That's when they got points on us. There wasn't any frustration. We just have to fix some things."

Garner teamed in the middle with Skylar Wildfong last season, but with Wildfong now playing at IU-South Bend, Fitzpatrick had to find someone to form the new duo. That turned out to be Hannah Hagy, who moved over from right side hitter.

"It was a big change," Hagy said. "I don't play in the off-season at all. I had no clue what I was doing at the beginning. Everything was different. We're close friends in school, so it was easy. (Garner) always pushes me to do my best."

Fitzpatrick lauded the play of the pair, going up against Morgan's formidable attack. Each had two solo blocks with Garner adding five block assists and eight kills.

"She's a very quick, very easy jumper," Fitzpatrick said of Hagy. "Those two were huge for us. We scored some points because of them. They're strong blockers. Morgan had to try to hit over them, and they got a lot of touches. They created a lot of unforced errors."

Lexy Wade topped the Satellites with 10 kills.

"We know exactly what we need to work on," Fitzpatrick said. "We'll get back in the gym and fine-tune some stuff. We've still got a ton of growth potential to reach going into the sectional."

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