LIGONIER — Fairfield volleyball coach Carla Herschberger wasn’t all that pleased with what she saw from her team in its Class 3A West Noble Sectional quarterfinal contest against Wawasee Thursday night.
But the Falcons, despite struggling at times, still advanced to Saturday afternoon’s semifinals with a 25-18, 25-15, 25-15 sweep over Wawasee.
With the win, the Falcons (28-7) will face either NorthWood or Lakeland in a semifinal matchup slated to begin at about 12:30 p.m. West Noble and Tippecanoe Valley will meet in the other semifinal at 11 a.m.
The semifinal winners face off at 5 p.m. for the sectional championship.
Herschberger said her team was playing too tentatively at times.
“We’re a young team, and many of our girls were seeing their first sectional action tonight,” Herschberger said. “We were overthinking things out there at times.”
Herschberger said she wanted some of the younger players to take this message away from Thursday night: “That’s one under your belt.”
The Falcons led comfortably in all three matches, and got out to a 7-1 lead in the second game.
Wawasee, however, kept it close at times, cutting the Falcon lead to 11-8 in the second game before Fairfield pulled back ahead. The Warriors trimmed Fairfield’s advantage to five at 19-14 before the Falcons closed it out with six straight points.
It was a similar story in the third game, as Fairfield got out to an early 14-9 lead before seeing Wawasee inch to within two at 15-13. A timeout helped settle down the Falone, who closed with a 10-2 flourish down the stretch to finish off the Warriors.
Falcon senior middle hitter Haley Brown said as a team leader, it’s her job to help acclimate the younger players to what to expect at tournament time.
“When we make mistakes, we can’t dwell on it,” Brown said. “We have to come together, put it behind us and move on.”
Brown had 11 kills Thursday night to lead the Falcon offensive attack. Leah Wimmer had 25 assists.
Wawasee was led by senior Lydia Katsaropoulos, who had seven kills. Alli Ousley had seven assists and 10 digs, and Aly Anderson had 15 digs from her libero position.
Wawasee coach Jeff Phillips said his team played well.
“But we needed to play perfectly to have a chance against a team like Fairfield,” Phillips said. “We had too many errors.”
Wawasee (15-17) will say goodbye to three seniors: Hunter Gaerte, Kasey Napier and Katsaropoulos, who was a four-year starter.
Follow Sports Editor David Vantress on Twitter @dvantress_TGN