MUNCIE — Normally, the Class 2A No. 1 team falling in the first round of sectional play after taking a 2-0 lead would take an upset of massive proportions, akin to a David and Goliath.
Except the Class 2A No. 4 Wapahani volleyball team is no David, knocking off Wes-Del 23-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-19, 15-10. Wapahani plays Burris on Thursday in the Burris Sectional semifinal.
After watching the offense sputter for two sets, Wapahani coach Jared Richardson decided to switch up the rotation. At the start, he had Skyler Van Note and Estella Davis manning the middle, but Van Note was struggling to get into a rhythm. He moved Van Note to the outside and spread out the offense, letting the offense flow from the entire court.
“I’ve told the girls all year that it’s going to take different rotations to get to the state finals,” Richardson said. “They responded as well as I could have asked them to.”
For the first two sets, it was the Alysa Sutton and Emily Hale show. The Wes-Del pair overwhelmed the Wapahani defense, which in turn didn’t allow Wapahani to set up its offense.
Wapahani had already beaten Wes-Del earlier in the season in three sets, giving Wes-Del even more incentive to hand its opponent a loss in the postseason.
With its season hanging in the balance, the Raiders went on a 10-2 run to open the third set, spurred by Courtney Dragoo’s serving. Claiming the middle as her own, Davis’ attacks started falling, as did Van Note’s on the outside. Van Note led the Raiders with 24 kills on the night, Davis had 16.
To complicate matters for Wes-Del, Sutton went down hard on the first point on the third set. She struggled to stand up, eventually limping to her position. She finished the night with 10 kills, while Hale led the Warriors with 12.
“I saw that happen and I told my team ‘Make her work, make her move left and right,'” Richardson said. “As soon as I knew that ankle was a little bit touchy, she’s their heart and we needed to make her run.”
After the injury, Sutton’s next attack was blocked, and Wes-Del stopped feeding her the ball. The Warriors strongest offensive weapon was neutralized, allowing Raider defenders to focus on other players. The Wapahani defense finished the night with nine blocks, three each from Van Note, Davis and Chase Curry.
“I knew we could come back and win, even after we lost the first two sets,” Davis said. “Our team isn’t the kind to just give up. We fought hard today, I was prepared to fight, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
Wes-Del jumped out to a 4-1 lead to open the fifth set, highlighted by back-to-back blocks from Sutton. Wapahani battled back using kills from Van Note and Davis. Leading 14-10, Van Note slipped an attack just inside of the box for the game-winning point, swarmed by her teammates afterward.
“We didn’t want the rally to be for nothing,” Davis said. “We were ready to take the match.”
Wapahani is Goliath now.
Contact prep sports reporter David Polaski at (765) 213-5848. Follow him on Twitter @DavidPolaskiTSP.