The Chesterton volleyball team scored the first seven points of the evening
on Thursday against rival Valparaiso as well as the final two points of the
What happened in the other 213 points of the match contains the story of an
improbable comeback that could be just what the Trojans need to spur on a
deep postseason run as Sectionals are less than a month away.
Chesterton dodged defeat when it was down to its final point on four
different occasions, including twice in the fifth game, and the Trojans
pulled off a furious rally to defeat the Vikings 23-25, 19-25, 26-24, 25-23,
“This win came from the heart,” Chesterton senior Katie Urycki said. “That’s
the only way that something like this would’ve happened.”
The Trojans displayed plenty of heart, but the senior-laden squad also
displayed plenty of perseverance, a trait that coach TR Harlan has seen a
lot of in recent days. On Tuesday, the Trojans were facing elimination
against Lake Central before rallying to win in five games against the
Indians. Harlan’s squad didn’t quit on the road in St. John and they
certainly didn’t quit at home in front of the biggest crowd of the year.
“For the first time all year, I thought the seniors started to play with a
sense of urgency and that really started on Tuesday against Lake Central,”
Harlan said. “They always thought there was tomorrow, that they would do
things tomorrow. They are realizing that now is the time.”
The Trojans came out of the gates with a forceful determination, scoring the
first seven points of the night and having a rowdy student section screaming
at the top of their lungs. Just like the football team received incredible
support from the student body last Friday in its 48-14 win over the Vikings,
the volleyball team had plenty of students on hand on Thursday, many of them
football players who chose to watch the volleyball match as a group instead
of sequestering themselves before Friday’s homecoming game against Portage.
“I was so jealous of (the football team) for getting that win on Friday,”
Urycki said. “I wanted that same experience and it feels so good that we
were able to get that. I can’t say enough about the fan support that we had
The rowdy fans almost left the arena early as the Vikings had a chance to
end the match in three games when Valparaiso took a 24-22 lead in the third
game. The Trojans battled back and scored the next four points to pull out a
26-24 win and force a fourth game.
The comeback attempt wouldn’t get any easier as a back-and-forth match led
both teams to a 23-23 tie before the Trojans closed strong and scored the
final two points, forcing a fifth and deciding game.
“I told the girls before the fifth game to look at the crowd and I told them
that they’d already won,” Harlan said. “You’ve got to play near perfect to
beat Valparaiso and we did enough things right to do that. They are the best
team in the area and you’ve got to play a great game to come out ahead.”
For as much work as the Trojans did to force the fifth game, it nearly went
up in smoke when the Vikings jumped out to a 6-3 lead and seemingly had all
the momentum. The Trojans continued to show resolve and moments later it was
tied at six points apiece and then the teams began trading points until the
Vikings were back on top with a chance to win the match.
Twice in the final moments of the match the Trojans had to survive match
point situations just to continue the fifth game. Chesterton turned the
tables on the Vikings by scoring the final two points, the last of which
came when senior setter Jennifer Williams dropped a harmless shot over the
net and the outstretched arms of the Valparaiso frontline.
Silence took over the crowd for half a second as the reality of the
improbable comeback began to set in on everyone. As the shocked Valparaiso
players went through the motions of the postgame hand shake, the Chesterton
players, led by the seniors, floated through the line as tears began to
stream down their faces and fans began to stream out of the stands.
“This is the first time that I’ve ever beaten Valparaiso,” Urycki said. “No
matter what happens the rest of the season, I will always remember this
Urycki shined from beginning to end on Thursday night, finishing the match
with a game-high 18 kills and 22 digs. Her performance left Harlan shaking
his head at the end of the marathon match.
“It’s been a long time since I felt like we had a difference maker out there
and I thought Katie Urycki was a huge difference in the match tonight,”
Harlan said. “She made so many of the big plays throughout the night.”
Harlan got strong performances from his entire team on Thursday, including
an inspired effort from Sara Tarnowski. The junior libero struggled in the
middle portion of the match, but returned with a fervor in the closing
points, registering 14 digs against a powerful hitting Valparaiso team.
Shelby Ruffner had 12 kills and Emily Nix added 10 kills for the Trojans.
“Since Tuesday we’ve really been focusing on playing hard,” Urycki said.
“Win or lose, our focus has been to play every point until the end. It’s
starting to set in that the end is coming soon enough and our focus is to
keep playing hard for as long as we can.”
Chesterton -- Jennifer Williams 5 kills, 27 assists, 13 digs; Katie Urycki
18 kills, 22 digs; Sara TarnowskI 14 digs; Emily Nix 10 kills, 3 block
kills; Jordyn Moleski 15 digs; Jessica Urycki 8 kills, 3 digs; Shelby
Ruffner 12 kills, 5 block kills; Ariane Mahaffey 5 kills, 25 assists, 3
service aces, 16 digs.
Valparaiso -- Kelsie Schultz 14 kills, 21 digs, 3 service aces; Anna Walls
17 digs; Mary Bobos 20 digs; Noelle Eveland 13 kills; Kate Bontrager 12
kills; Tarrah Lasky 36 assists, 15 digs; Timi Stascak 7 kills.
Records: Chesterton 12-5 (6-3 DAC), Valparaiso 16-6 (7-2 DAC).
The Chesterton junior varsity improved to 13-8 on the year with a
come-from-behind 19-25, 25-22, 15-13 victory over Valparaiso on Thursday.
Offensively, Aubrey Nagedeman led the Trojans with five kills, while
Samantha Stueber had four kills. Shelby Snyder tallied three kills in the
Snyder and Nagdeman both dished out nine assists, while Nagdeman also had a
team-best three service aces.
Defensively, Emily Parkerson had 13 digs with Allie Sink adding 12 and
Ashley Hecimovich recorded 10. Snyder and Nagdeman both had eight digs.
The Chesterton freshman dropped a 25-22, 25-20 decision to Valparaiso on
Offensively, Taylor Eaton and Taylor Rodriguez each had three kills. Kaylee
Goin and Elena Azcona tallied two kills each.
Caitlyn Toth dished out a team-best five assists.
Defensively, Azcona had a team-high six digs with Toth and Goin adding five
digs. Alaina Kogler and Eaton both recorded four digs in the loss.