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Girls volleyball: LC ends Munster’s sectional reign

Lake Central's Nikki Garztalks official Deb Glass about point reversal Munsters favor Lowell High School Saturday October 20 2012. |

Lake Central's Nikki Garza talks to the official Deb Glass about a point reversal in Munsters favor at Lowell High School on Saturday October 20, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 22, 2012 6:56AM



LOWELL — Munster and Lake Central took do-or-die to the next level in Saturday afternoon’s Class 4A Lowell Sectional championship match.

Neither team led by more than three points in the fifth and decisive game as momentum swung back-and-forth. Indians sophomore Brooke Renner put an end to the emotional roller coaster, scoring point No. 21 and sending the LC bench and crowd into the frenzy. LC ended its five-year sectional title drought.

The Indians came back from a game down to beat the four-time defending sectional champions, 3-2 (17-25, 25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 21-19), for a chance to meet Valparaiso in the regional championship match on Tuesday.

LC (26-9) won its only regional championship in 1994.

“It was one of the finest battles we’ve had with anyone ever,” Indians coach Tina Tinberg said. “We had some phenomenal performances offensively but defensively — especially our play from libero Dani Ellis — we were relentless and fearless particularly in the fourth and fifth sets.

“When they believe in themselves, they can do exceptional things and it takes a whole unit. It is everybody all together and everything we’ve been working towards came out tonight on the court.”

It looked like Munster’s match to win as it held leads of 11-8 and 13-11 in Game 5. But little mistakes (two serves out of bounds and one serve in the net) proved to be too much to overcome even with Shannon Farrell on the Mustangs’ side.

Farrell kept her team in it in Game 5 recording five of her match-high 20 kills in that final frame for Munster (28-8).

“Shannon was solid throughout the match,” Mustangs coach Tracy Summer said. “She’s our go-to player and she’s fearless.”

But Renner (8 kills), freshman Tori Gardenhire (15 kills) and junior Katherine Stepanian (13 kills) proved to be too much at the net as they finally closed it out. The whole team collapsed in the middle of the court following the exhausting win.

“It was so…. I don’t even know what to say,” Renner said. “I wanted it so bad for my team. (On the game-winning kill), I saw two blockers and four hands and I just hit it hoping it would go down and it did.

“Everybody was so emotional and everybody wanted to win so bad. We just couldn’t find that last point till we put it down.”

Nikki Garza added 24 assists, 10 digs and two aces for the Indians; Julianne Epperson had 30 digs and an ace; Lauren DiNino recorded 17 assists, 10 digs and three aces; and Ellis finished with a team-high 39 digs for LC.



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