LIGONIER — Coach Carla Herschberger, four-year starter Haley Brown and some of the other Fairfield Falcons didn’t know Saturday, Oct. 26, how many sectional volleyball titles their program has won in a row.
But at least they have an excuse. They’ve been busy adding to the count.
The Falcons made it a nice, round 10 straight championships Saturday, downing Tippecanoe Valley 25-17, 25-15, 25-11 in the final, after earlier in the day fighting off NorthWood 25-19, 25-22, 25-19 in the semis.
“No, I didn’t know, until my husband just said something,” Herschberger said of the decade-long run. “I don’t keep track of that stuff. He does. I’m not much of a numbers person, but it’s nice, especially being in 3A (the last three years) now. That bumps it up quite a bit.”
“I knew it was getting up around there,” Brown said of the 10 in a row after hammering down 14 kills in the final, “but I didn’t know it was 10. That’s pretty cool. I’m real happy to be a part of something like that.”
With Brown and fellow 6-foot middle hitter Sierra Smith the lone full-time starters back from last fall’s 35-2 juggernaut, the Falcons have had to develop through the course of this fall.
“We lost a few good seniors, but all the time and hard work we put into the offseason helped get us to where we are now,” Brown said. “Everybody’s worked hard.”
No. 6-ranked Fairfield (29-7) will host No. 7-rated — and quite familiar foe — Fort Wayne Concordia in a regional championship match Tuesday, Oct. 29.
The Falcons won a four-setter against the Cadets in last year’s regional at Concordia, one year after the Cadets won a five-setter at Fairfield.
Tuesday’s survivor advances to the two-round Plymouth Semistate on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Against Valley (18-10), both of the first two sets were tight for a while, before the Falcons seized control at about the same juncture in each. A 9-2 run put them up 19-13 in the first set, and an 8-0 run featuring Kelsey Schiffli serving put them out front 22-13 in the second.
Then in the third set, Fairfield roared to an 11-1 lead and never saw its margin dip below nine.
“We started passing a little better, started serving more aggressively, and we tried to run some fast stuff, and I think that bothered (Valley) a little bit,” Herschberger said of what happened after about the midway point of the second set.
In the semis against NorthWood, Fairfield swept a team it needed five sets to beat during the regular season, but the scores were again tight.
“We’ve been clicking really well lately, in the (Elkhart Memorial Invitational) and the (Northeast Corner Conference) Tournament, but for some reason we didn’t click today in either match quite like we wanted against a couple good teams,” Herschberger said. “But we get another opportunity, so hopefully, we’re going to click again.”
3A West Noble Sectional
Fairfield def. Tippecanoe Valley 25-17, 25-15, 25-11
Top Fairfield players: Aces — Erin Carlos 4. Assists — Leah Wimmer 31. Kills — Haley Brown 14, Sierra Smith 9. Blocks — Smith 2, Wimmer 2. Digs — Carlos 11, Kelsey Schiffli 7, Wimmer 6.
Records: Fairfield 29-7, Tippecanoe Valley 18-10.
Next: Fort Wayne Concordia at Fairfield in 3A regional Tuesday, Oct. 29, 7 p.m.
Fairfield def. NorthWood 25-19, 25-22, 25-19
Top Fairfield players: Aces — Erin Carlos 2. Assists — Leah Wimmer 31. Kills — Sierra Smith 13, Haley Brown 10. Blocks — Brown 5, Hannah Siegel 4. Digs — Lauren Streit 14, Kelsey Schiffli 14, Carlos 11.
Other semifinal: Valley def. West Noble 25-17, 25-9, 25-17.
Record: NorthWood 17-17.