DiNino, LC get back on track with DAC win
By Ryan Haskell Post-Tribune correspondent August 30, 2012 11:49PM
Lake Central's Victoria Gardenhire fires off a kill for the first point in the 3rd set against Portage at Lake Central High School on Thursday August 29, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media
ST. JOHN — Lake Central showed no symptoms of a hangover following a tough five-game loss to Crown Point earlier in the week.
The Indians went out and took care of business, winning 3-0 over Portage in Duneland Athletic Conference play Thursday night.
Senior Lauren DiNino led the way at the service line, finishing 20-for-21 with a match-high eight aces. She also contributed 10 assists and five digs. Fellow senior setter Nikki Garza was 34-for-35 setting with 15 assists; she also recorded 14 digs and an ace.
At the net, freshman Tori Gardenhire smacked down a match-high 11 kills and four blocks for the Indians (11-3, 2-1), while junior Katherine Stepanian had eight kills, two aces and three blocks.
“We’re operating as a whole out there and there’s great team chemistry,” LC coach Tina Tinberg said. “We were in system a lot tonight so we were extremely offensive. Our defense is pretty incredible with this group. If they serve medium pace to us, we’re pretty offensive due to the pass.”
The Indians are playing incredible volleyball to start the season, having beaten Valparaiso over the weekend before losing to Penn in the Plymouth Invitational championship match in three games. Garza, Danielle Ellis and Brooke Renner were named to the all-tourney team.
Tinberg, who is in her fourth year, believes this is the most complete team she’s had at Lake Central.
“I have some young girls on the varsity squad,” she said. “My daughters (sophomores Taylor and Danielle Ellis) are the DS libero package out there and I have Tori Gardenhire in the middle as a freshman. Can you image what she will be like as a senior?
“Then we’ve got great senior leadership that are just very team-like. They have no problem patting our young players on the back. So with that senior leadership and talent and that young talent and drive that makes a good combination.”
That senior leadership was on display in Game 3 when there could have been some letup after crushing Portage in the first two games by double digits.
Portage junior Mariah Wright aced her serve to cut the deficit to 17-13 in the third game before a kill by Stepanian gave the LC side out and put the ball in DiNino’s hands.
That was ballgame from there.
DiNino recorded three of her aces in that time frame, scoring the final eight points to finish off the contest.
Tinberg said it was great to see her team get back in the win column in the conference.
“We got back on track here; we got in a rhythm,” she said. “Our first ball contact was great and we can be very offensive and that’s the key to igniting an offense.
“Every match in the Duneland is as valuable as the next because you don’t get any breathing room in the DAC so you have to make sure you’re sharp. And that’s what I try to teach them is you have to play with heart, hustle and drive whoever our opponent is and at that very high competitive spirit.”