LIZTON — Most accomplishments that leave a lasting impression take great effort and determination and the Tri-West girls’ volleyball team exemplified both of those traits Saturday. The experienced Bruins found a way past a scrappy Danville squad for their second consecutive sectional title, winning 3-1 (25-9, 25-23, 18-25, 25-20).
“We are excited,” Tri-West coach Stacey Rogers said with a wide smile. “The girls have been on fire the last couple of days. Danville really stepped it up here at the end of the season. They were a force to be reckoned with and they really took all that we had.”
Danville was not the same team that Tri-West had defeated 3-0 early in the year and seeing them fight to a five set win over Indian Creek after the Bruins bested Indianapolis Northwest 3-0, Rogers admitted Tri-West expected to have its hands full this time around.
Both teams came out in the first set with a high amount of energy and Tri-West settled down first and seized control. Up 10-6, the Bruins’ Taylor Green went on a serving run of 11 points before the Warriors could answer.
Danville came out in the second set and led 8-3 before Tri-West mounted a charge. The two teams traded blows and Tri-West eventually climbed into the lead, but never more than three points ahead of Danville.
With its season on the line and at a time when most teams would have folded down 2-0, Danville came out with just as much energy in the third set. The Warriors again built a substantial lead, but it was one they would not relinquish.
“The girls really put forth the greatest effort that I had seen all season in the past two games,” Danville coach Shea Pierson said. “Our seniors really stepped it up here in the last two games and so did our freshmen. I was really impressed with their effort and they didn’t give up.”
Tri-West jumped out to an early fourth set lead at 6-3, but Danville tied it up at 9-9. It was a set that saw nine ties throughout, the last at 19-19 before the Bruins pulled away for a 25-20 match-ending victory.
Tri-West’s seniors Kat Zielinski, Morgan Land, Alyssa Clark, Keanna Lazaro, Kati Leak, Alyssa Hake, and Green brought a wealth of experience into the match, using much of what they learned from last season.
That should bode well for the Bruins as they travel to Edgewood to take on the team that bumped them from regional postseason play last year, or at least Rogers hopes so.
“We have a lot more experience this year,” she said. “It helps get rid of some of their nerves and it’s not their first time in a regional game. Now they know what it takes to be able to play at that level and hopefully we will be able to do it this year.”
Green led Tri-West with 16 kills as sophomore Kristen Buss added nine along with three blocks. Zielinski finished the night with 11 digs while Lizzi Meyer tallied 15 assists.
For the young Danville squad that loses three seniors — Katie Rigdon, Courtney Leisch, and McKenzie Bear— Pierson hopes her squad can take a few cues from her departing players.
“Courtney was a strong vocal leader,” she said. “Rigdon was everywhere in the back row and leads by example. Kenzie picked up the freshmen and took the team a long way this year.”
Leisch led Danville with 15 kills and Bear added seven. Chelsea Gould recorded 17 digs and teammate Lauren Catellier had 24 assists. Freshman Olivia Hartman added six blocks and along with classmate Jasmine Larsen, the future looks bright for the Warriors.
But even though there is next year for all but the three seniors, Pierson hopes the Warriors can also take a lesson or two from the loss.
“Our performance gave a lot of the girls hope for next year,” she said. “I think the younger girls are pumped for next year. There were a lot of tears in the locker room.”
Tri-West now heads to regional action at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Edgewood High School.