St. Joe eliminates Glenn in 3

PLYMOUTH — John Glenn hung tough for the first few points, but St. Joseph’s took control mid-way through game 1. By the time the Lady Falcons recovered, it was too late.
Glenn matched St. Joe point-for-point at 7-7 in the first game, but the Indians ran off five straight points to put some distance between themselves and the Falcons before running away with the opening-set win. Glenn didn’t respond until late in the second game and the Falcons came close in game 3, but it wasn’t enough as the Indians eliminated them with a 25-13, 25-12, 25-21 decision at the Class 3A Plymouth Volleyball Sectional opener Tuesday at The Rock.
St. Joe moves on to face five-time defending champion Mishawaka Marian in a Plymouth semifinal Saturday at 11 a.m. Culver Girls Academy plays Jimtown Thursday at 6 p.m. followed by a match between the host Lady Pilgrims and New Prairie at 7:30 p.m. to determine Saturday’s other semifinal, scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
“It definitely carried in (game 2),” said Glenn Head Volleyball Coach Merly Mears of the Indians’ 18-5 game 1-ending run. “I tried to get them up; when they get pumped up and stuff, they definitely play better. They just didn’t pick it up enough to get St. Joe. St. Joe’s a good team. We knew coming in we’d have our hands full with them.”
The Falcons nearly extended St. Joe to four games at 20-20 in game 3, but the Indians got a lift from senior outside hitter Kathryn Hecklinski’s service game, grabbing four unanswered points — including an ace by Hecklinski — en route to the eventual 25-21 match-decider.
“I was serving right,” she said. “I knew I had to get that serve in. I had missed one previously in a key situation so for my team I just had to get that serve in and over, whether it was an ace or not. You don’t have a choice when you’re in that situation. You have to help out your team no matter what.”
While Glenn hit the court fired up, St. Joe struggled at the outset before clamping down midway through the first game.
The Indians have struggled with a pair of ankle injuries to setter Michelle Potter and center Lauren Gillis, as well as some personal issues this week. Head coach Kathy Mossey said her team may have been looking past Tuesday’s opener to an anticipated match-up with rival Marian as well.
“We’ve had some illnesses this week. Two people had family members die this week, so it’s just been a mess,” she said.
“Part of it was I think they’re looking too far ahead, and they needed to stay focused on getting through today. I think they were ready for the weekend already, and that’s kind of a hard thing with high school kids. And part of the problem was Glenn came out to play. They were scrappy; they kept that ball going.”
Glenn was led by senior middle hitter Stephanie Radandt’s six kills, as well as five kills and 19 digs from senior outside hitter Amanda Bogard, and senior Anna Schmalzried’s 12 assists and 11 digs. Fellow senior setter/ opposite side hitter Brielynn Newland served up a pair of aces in the loss for Glenn.
“We’ve had other girls pick it up here and there, but for the most part Steph Radandt is our go-to person, and Anna, our center,” said Mears. “We switched our offense a couple weeks ago and started running a 5-1 instead of 6-2. That seemed to help with our defense with three in the back row there defensively.”
St. Joe was led by a match-high 19 kills and 28 digs from Hecklinski, along with 12 kills and three blocks from Gillis, three aces from Sarah Neeser, 34 digs by Chelsea Suppinger, and an impressive 40 assists from the injured Potter.
“We knew this was probably going to be an easier match than Saturday’s match, so we had to stay focused and play our game and not kind of go down beneath our level. We did a little bit… but I think our leaders kind of stepped up. Katie stepped up,” said Mossey.
“Lauren Gillis did well at the net; I thought her blocking really helped us that first game, and she had some kills that really helped push the lead, and then Katie finished the game strong. Sarah Neeser, she’s a good leader out there.”
While the Indians move on to face the five-peat champion Knights, Glenn bows out with a creditable 19-13 record and bids goodbye to seven seniors in Schmalzried, Radandt, Bogard and Newland as well as Shelby Tetzlaff, Candace Defluiter and Sarah Traversa. It’s a core of upperclassmen that has come a long way for the Falcons and the squad will miss them, but Mears is also optimistic about the future.
“The seniors have stuck with the program for four years. Four years ago they won three matches as a varsity team and then they went to nine, 18 and then 19 this year,” he said.
“Our JV had a good record this year. They were 15-7. We have a lot of juniors on the JV team. Our freshman team was 15-2, very strong freshman class, and we’ve got some good incoming freshman coming in, too.”
• ST. JOSEPH’S 3, JOHN GLENN 0 (25-13, 25-12, 25-21)
At Class 3A Plymouth Sectional
Glenn stats
Kills: Stephanie Radandt 6, Amanda Bogard 5
Aces: Brielynn Newland 2
Assists: Anna Schmalzried 12
Digs: Bogard 19, Schmalzried 11
St. Joe stats
Kills: Kathryn Kecklinski 19, Lauren Gillis 12
Aces: Sarah Neeser 3
Assists: Michelle Potter 40
Digs: Chelsea Suppinger 34, Hecklinski 28
Blocks: Gillis 3
Records: St. Joe 22-10, Glenn 19-13 (final)