WESTVILLE — During the school day, Lexy Wade makes the trek from South Central to Westville, where the Satellites senior has a vocational medical class with Blackhawks setter Sarah Henrich.
"We were all talking about the game," Wade said. "It's a friendly rivalry, good competition."
If there's any kind of good-natured needling going on today, it will be coming from Wade as S.C. swept Westville (8-4, 1-2) in a Porter County Conference match, 25-22, 25-20, 25-19, on Wednesday.
"We knew they were scrappy," Wade said. "Even though they didn't have height, they had crazy defense. We needed to stay on our toes, in position at all times, and if we weren't in position, helping each other out, communicating. Like coach Jan (Fitzpatrick) said, we had to mix up shots, go short, go deep, to control the game from our view and make them stay on their toes. I felt we really bounced back from mistakes. If we had a bad pass, we were like, shake it off, and the same person would make a dime pass the next time. When we come together as a team, everybody plays better."
While the match went the minimum, each game was contested, as the scores suggest, with South Central's upper hand at the net making the difference in the end.
"The thing we talked about other than Sarah taking over the match was they're scrappy," Fitzpatrick said. "They may not have the person who can put the ball down, but they'll frustrate you. This is just what we needed. We can not recreate this in practice. They dig things, our hitters get frustrated. We're not where we need to be on mental toughness. We just spent more time working on directional tips, trying to increase their volleyball IQ. Not everything needs to be a kill shot."
Wade is emblematic of the Satellites lineup as a whole, a three-sport athlete at a school that can't afford students to specialize.
"It's tough enough to be a kid," Fitzpatrick said. "Kids should be doing whatever they want. Lex is a girl who has been doing it since day one. I've known her since she was little. They're developing competitiveness, hand-eye coordination (doing other sports). We have tons of athleticism, varying ranges of experience, kids who can put the ball down on the floor and others who are a work in progress. The future looks bright if we can get people to stick with it and work in the offseason. If we get passionate, then we'll rock and roll."
In addition to Wade's 10 kills and five aces, S.C. (5-4, 2-3 PCC) picked up eight kills each from Allee Garner and Wade's younger sister Pipar. Lanie Criswell set 69 assists.
"Lexy will always get us a side out," Fitzpatrick said. "What thrilled me was the combination of Allie and Lauren (Bowmar). They got frustrated, they made some errors, but the fact they were touching balls when in the beginning of the season we weren't, I'll take some errors. I tell them all the time, before it gets great, it has to get ugly. What I liked was we got everybody in. That led to some confusion out there, but when somebody comes in and does something, the whole team celebrates. It's not like, oh, you took my spot. I just love it here. They're wanting to be sponges and learn. Now all we need is repetition. The way the schedule is, we can barely fit in a practice. I have to remind myself we're making strides."
Fitzpatrick spoke at length after the match to Henrich, who, like Wade, she has known since she was little.
"We talked about her. we have to watch her in that she'll try to take over the match," Fitzpatrick said. "She'll do whatever it takes to help her team win. I've always liked her. She has very good hands. She plays tremendous defense. A lot of setters don't have the mentality to take over a game. They count on the hitters to do it. Sometimes, she's going to get her team a sideout. She has had a variety of coaches here and she still shows up and does what she can."
South Central 25-25-25, Westville 22-20-19
S.C.'s Lexy Wade had 10 kills and five aces.