Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:00 am
Leo, Dwenger head powerful volleyball sectional
Josh Patterson | For The Journal Gazette
With two top-five teams in No. 3 Bishop Dwenger (28-1) and No. 5 Leo (24-2) joining a 29-5 Angola squad that swept the NECC regular season, there's no easy championship path in the Class 3A Angola volleyball sectional. Fortunately, the blind draw didn't bunch all three on the same side of the bracket.
“If it's not seeded, you're not going to always have a true championship, but it works out this year where all three of us are separated, so that was nice,” Leo coach Ashlee Robbins said. “I would rather it be seeded. I just think it makes it more fair if you earn it throughout the season.”
Seeding questions aside, the field at Angola highlights the area postseason slate that starts today, with 64 sectional champions in four classes set to be crowned statewide Saturday. Bellmont leads the area with 33 sectional titles, good for third-most statewide, and Bellmont is seeking its area-best 13th straight sectional crown.
Though Dwenger handed Leo one of its two losses this season, the five-set defeat came in just the Lions' sixth match this year. With a lineup featuring six seniors, tops among the three Angola Sectional favorites, that experience, coupled with the experience of having played in high-pressure situations, could turn that negative into a positive, should both advance to the semifinals.
“Obviously, we have some things we didn't execute as well as we would have liked, but we have some game and film sessions of ourselves playing as well as (Dwenger),” Robbins said. “We just have to learn from our mistakes and execute at a higher level.”
Dwenger's strength stems from its depth. Despite just two seniors in Ellen Ross, a four-year starter headed to Butler on a basketball scholarship, and Claudia Ream, a two-year starter at libero, the talent on the roster often makes practices tougher than actual matches.
“We have eight juniors on this team, and not all of them start, but you wouldn't know it in practice or in matches,” Saints coach Tim Houser said. They obviously want to play, but they're buying in and supporting the team. We have no controversy or any problems with chemistry.
“Some of these girls have been playing since fifth grade and haven't come off the court. But that's good, it makes our practices even better. When we play in practice, you don't know who is going to win.”
Progressing from just 14 wins two seasons ago to more than doubling that total this season, a sophomore-laden Angola looks to continue those positive steps forward under second-year coach Lloy Ball. Strengthening the schedule has accompanied that progression, which included scheduling 4A powerhouse Carroll for a Spike Out Cancer night on Thursday.
That match, coupled with the NECC tournament Saturday, kicked off what Ball considered a weeklong run to mark final postseason preparation. When adding in the Angola football team's success in an 8-0 record and a conference title, Ball wants his squad to add a sectional title to the trophy case.
“There's been a nice culture change up here and hosting a sectional, for us, is a big deal,” Ball said. “For us to have the season we're having, I look to fill this gym (on) Saturday and hope to continue to get the community excited.”