Girls volleyball: Portage, MC advance to sectional semis
By Ryan Haskell Post-Tribune correspondent October 16, 2012 11:10PM
Merrillville's Riana Todd strikes the ball at the net at Michigan City's Dejania Evans defends during their sectional match at Valparaiso Tuesday Oct. 16, 2012. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 18, 2012 7:20AM
VALPARAISO — This is why coaches and players talk about being 0-0 going into the postseason.
Because Portage, which came in with just 10 wins, should have had no shot at beating Hobart — a 20-win team — on paper.
But it happened anyway.
The Indians came back from a game down to beat the Brickies 3-1 (22-25, 25-14, 25-23, 25-17) in Tuesday night’s Class 4A Valparaiso Sectional quarterfinal match.
Michigan City (17-14) topped Merrillville 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-12) in the other quarterfinal; Portage (11-21) and the Wolves will meet Saturday morning in the semifinals for a chance to play in the championship at 7 p.m.
Portage second-year coach Brian Zofkie said his team played strong in the second half of the season and the results are finally paying off.
“Our second time through the DAC we really turned it around,” he said. “We don’t have the talent as a program to compete with a lot of those (DAC) teams but we played a lot of four- and five-game matches and the girls are having fun.”
The Indians lost to Hobart in five games to open the season but Zofkie was missing two of his starters. One of those starters, Josephine Auksel, proved to be huge on Tuesday.
“Not having her the first match was one of the differences,” Zofkie said. “I knew she was going to be the x-factor tonight with her big block.”
Auksel finished with seven kills and five blocks. Madison Beadles, who had the game-winning ace, added 11 kills, Michaela Miller had 33 assists and Mariah Wright had 24 digs.
In the first match, Wolves senior Dejania Evans played her best match of the season in the team’s sweep of the Pirates. Senior outside hitter Sarah Puckett was her typical self, recording a double-double (12 kills and 10 digs), while senior libero Megan Van Gemeren finished with a team-high 18 digs.
MC coach Ashley Kohler said her team needs to play better if it hopes to win that coveted sectional crown.
“A ‘W’ is a ‘W’ but we didn’t play anywhere close to where we need to play,” Ashley Kohler said. “I’m happy with the win and I’m happy we have three days to prepare for Saturday. I’m not upset. I’m just not satisfied.”