Wolves in a walk
HOBART — Thursday’s Class 4A Hobart Sectional match with Merrillville afforded Michigan City coach TR Harlan the luxury of mixing up his lineup and doing a little preparation for the Saturday semifinals, while also making sure his players weren’t so relaxed that they were singing and dancing to “Sweet Caroline” when the ball was served.
“It was basically a good scrimmage where we got to do some things, move some other kids in to get to touch the ball, break up practice,” Harlan said after the 25-5, 25-9, 25-13 advancement. “It was a very workmanlike win, which is what it should have been. It shouldn’t have to be a lot of emotion, a lot of energy, and it wasn’t. We wanted to make sure our energy was focused on doing things right, being where we were supposed to be.”
For Hannah Noveroske, the match helped her in her transition back to middle hitter, her position prior to her knee injury, in a low-pressure situation. She looked good against the overmatched Pirates, burying 14 kills on just 18 swings.
“I feels different because I’m used to playing defense,” Noveroske said. “Now I’m just blocking all the times. A couple times myself, oh, I was supposed to block on that free ball. I’m starting to remember a little more. There are probably going to be longer rallies (Saturday), more important kills, and I’ll probably be gassed at the end, but hopefully, when the game’s over, we’re excited.”
City (27-7) raced to 6-0 and 15-1 leads in the first game and Harlan was substituting liberally by the middle of Game 2, which started 11-1 Wolves.
“The first thing we talked about after Game 1 was to concentrate, make sure we stay in the game, do things correctly, and let the game take care of itself,” he said. “Even when we made substitutions, we didn’t let them go on any runs because we didn’t make four, five mistakes in a row.”
Merrillville edged within 13-8 in the third game but got no closer.
“That’s one of the best Merrillville teams we’ve played,” Noveroske said. “We just have a few better players.”
Emily Kinney contributed 19 assists and Kasey Halfacre nine digs for City, which registered 11 aces.
“We did a couple new things, we worked on some things we’re specifically going to see Saturday,” Harlan said. “We served pretty well. We passed pretty well.”
M.C. will play Chesterton in the semifinals with Valparaiso, a three-game winner over Portage, meeting the hosts in the other match. The finals are in the evening.
“We’re going to have to be really good twice,” Harlan said.
The Wolves won both matches with Chesterton, though the second meeting went five games. They split with Valpo, though Noveroske didn’t play either time.