LAPORTE, Ind. — Michigan City carried it’s lofty No. 2 state ranking and 11-0 start into LaPorte with sole possession of the Duneland Athletic Conference standings on the line Thursday in the battle of the unbeaten.
It was the No. 4 ranked Slicers that seized control at the outset and never looked back in a 25-17, 25-11, 25-16 sweep of the Wolves much to the delight of the raucous crowd at Slicer Gym.
“I would say in the last 10 years, I played or coached against every great team that’s been up here and (LaPorte) is one of them,” Michigan City coach TR Harlan said. “Everything that they’re dreaming of is possible and capable for that group. They are that good. There was very little, if anything, that we could do about what was going on.”.
LaPorte extended its unbeaten record to 11-0 and 4-0 in the DAC while City (11-1, 3-1 DAC) suffered its first loss of the season.
“Overall I’m very happy,” Slicers coach Cassie Holmquest said. “I thought we played very well. Our blocking was on point tonight, everyone contributed. I didn’t really see any weak points tonight, so I thought we did pretty well.”
The attacking and blocking of Riley Briggs, Kara Cooper, and Aniya Kennedy kept City off balance all night enabling LaPorte to jump out to an 8-0 lead in game one that later swelled to 16-4.
City mounted a rally behind the serving of Kasey Halfacre and Reese Shirley to close the deficit to 18-14. The Slicers maintained the margin at 20-16 before Gillian Santana rattled off four service points with Briggs serving the game winner.
“I think Paige (Conklin) our setter is a pretty good middle setter,” Holmquest said. “She does a really nice job finding our middles and utilizing them. She does a really good job of spreading our offense.”
Game two found the Wolves off to a better start and actually saw its only lead of the entire match at 3-2 on an ace served by Alexa Sparks. However, the Slicers found another gear and raced out to a lead of 11-4 that later became 22-8.
Game three was also all Slicers, jumping out to a quick 8-1 lead. However, City continued to battle despite being down and had several rallies, but was unable to avoid the inevitable sweep.
Conklin had had 29 assists. for the Slicers. Riley led LaPorte with 10 kills and Cooper had nine solo blocks.
“A lot of our problems were youth,” coach Harlan said who went with four sophomores in his lineup. “I think we were a little full of ourselves for the start we had for the season, and I think tonight was either a great learning experience for us, or it will be the end of what could have had a lot of promise to be a really good season.”.
Offensively for City, Shirley led the way with six kills, while Emily Kinney had three kills. Aaliyah Briggs and Ellery Dolezal each added two kills.
Kinney dished out a team-best seven assists with Shirley adding four assists as. Alexa Sparks had three assists.
On the service line, Shirley tallied two aces with Sparks and Dolezal each recording one ace. Defensively, Kasey Halfacre had 10 digs and Micah Ruhe added nine digs. Shirley (8), Kinney (7) and Sparks (6) also contributed.