To the average fan, the moment was nothing more than a bad call. To
Chesterton volleyball coach TR Harlan, the bad call meant an unfavorable
To the Trojans, the unfavorable matchup led to their ultimate demise.
The Chesterton volleyball team was trying to hold off a feisty Crown Point
squad on Thursday night, clinging to a lead in the fourth game when the lead
official failed to call a lift on a Bulldog hitter that would’ve resulted in
a Chesterton point.
Instead of taking a commanding 22-18 lead with just three points needed to
advance to Saturday’s semifinal against Valparaiso, the Trojans failed to
score another point in the fourth game and then came up short in the fifth
game, losing the match 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-10 to the Bulldogs.
“That call put (Crown Point sophomore Alyssa) Kvarta back on the line and I
thought we’d done a good job against her until that point, but then she got
hot,” Harlan said. “That changed the entire complexion of the match.”
While Harlan’s frustration with the call may sound like sour grapes, the
entire gym gasped when the official made the call. The Valparaiso coaching
staff, scouting their semifinal opponent, shook their heads at the absurdity
of the call.
“There was only one person in the gym that didn’t know it was a lift,”
Harlan said. “Unfortunately it was the only person that mattered.”
The Trojans continued to unravel after the controversial call, giving up the
next six points to the Bulldogs and then falling behind at the start of the
fifth game. Chesterton tried to stage a furious rally in the latter stages
of the final game, but there weren’t enough points remaining in the night.
“Disappointed. I thought we played hard enough but we caught a bad break
that changed everything,” Harlan said. “The tough part is that I’ve got a
locker room full of kids and I can’t tell them what they did wrong. Normally
when you lose, it’s something you did.”
The Trojans struggled in game one, but took control of the match with
back-to-back victories in games two and three. Offensively, the Trojans were
led by the senior trio of Katie Urycki, Emily Nix and Shelby Ruffner with 11
Fellow classmates Jennifer Williams and Ariane Mahaffey had 23 and 20
assists each as well.
“For a good portion of tonight, I thought we did a good job of staying in
the match and playing one point at a time,” Harlan said. “And defensively,
we moved well. We made a few adjustments after game one and things started
to click a little better.”
Sophomore libero Jordyn Moleski, substituting for injured Sara Tarnowski,
led the way with a career-high 27 digs, while Emily Marcus tallied 16.
Harlan’s emotions went from anger to frustration to sadness in the 15
minutes after the match.
Once the reality of losing a match that the Trojans were in control of until
the closing points began to set in, the bigger reality of losing a group of
seniors that have been the bedrock of the Chesterton volleyball program for
the last nine years began to overtake Harlan.
“This group of kids, in the cases of some of them, have been with me since I
got here,” Harlan said. “They were in the first group of club volleyball
players when I took over nine years ago. Whatever the program has become in
terms of success has been in large part to this group. I can’t be prouder of
them or thank them more.
“It will be a tough day tomorrow when I wake up and realize I don’t get to
see them every day.”
Chesterton -- Jennifer Williams 8 kills, 23 assists, 10 digs, 3 block kills;
Katie Urycki 11 kills, 2 aces, 7 digs; Emily Marcus 2 aces, 16 digs; Emily
Nix 11 kills, 3 block kills; Jordyn Moleski 27 digs; Jessica Urycki 7 kills,
2 digs; Shelby Ruffner 11 kills, 4 block kills; Ariane Mahaffey 2 kills, 20
assists, 2 aces, 7 digs; Ali Ostrom 2 kills, 3 digs; 3 block kills.
Record: Chesterton 24-10.