Photos by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Head coach and former standout player for Warsaw Chandra Hepler celebrates a point during her team's match with Elkhart.
Photos by Gary Nieter, Times-Union Head coach and former standout player for Warsaw Chandra Hepler celebrates a point during her team's match with Elkhart.
After a phenomenal performance against Elkhart in the morning Sectional opener on Saturday, Warsaw’s volleyball season ended in heartbreaking fashion in four games against Penn Saturday evening.

Head Coach Chandra Hepler was ‘tickled pink’ with the Tigers’ dominating victory in the morning matchup, especially given the fact the team hadn’t played in more than a week.

“From a coach’s standpoint, there are some nerves in play as to how your team is going to respond given such a long layoff but I thought our girls came out ready to play,” Hepler said. “Our defense in the back row was especially awesome and our hitters did a great job as well. It was a totally unified team effort.”

The Tigers maintained that focus and composure entering the second match of the day against Penn but confidence became an issue as the match started to get away from them.

“Our girls just came out on fire and that’s how I expected they would,” Hepler added.  

“We had Penn back on their heels the entire first set and we just rolled them. Then that second set was a huge battle. A couple of calls didn’t go our way and Penn barely won the set. In the third set once our confidence started to go that was the difference. Penn’s been in that situation many times and once we let them back in the door I think our girls felt the pressure of it. It just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Despite the loss, Hepler was full of praise for her team.

“I couldn’t be any more proud of them and the way they overcame adversity this year,” she continued.

“In this season of COVID, we went from thinking we weren’t even going to have the opportunity to play, we ended up playing 31 matches this year so we’re very grateful for that. A win tonight would have been icing on the cake. We were undefeated in the conference and won our conference for the first time in six years which is a huge step in the right direction for our program. And every girl on the team was a contributor. It wasn’t like we just played a set group of girls, it was every one of them. They have a lot to be proud of this year and I’m very proud of all of them.

“We’ve got a great group of girls. We have five seniors who are just out of this world, just amazing all the way around. Great leaders and just great role models. Also a very smart group of girls, both on the court and off.

“This is a very special class that we have to say goodbye to. Warsaw should be really proud of them.”

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Warsaw servers had five aces in the match, one each by Kendra Love, Kylie Smith, Abbie Porter, Kennedy Lauck and Avery Hales.

Betty Barnett lead the Tigers in kills with 15, while Kaylee Weeks had 9 and Melaina Hawblitzel had 7. Kennedy Lauck had 6 kills, Avery Hales 5 and Abby Sanner .

Elizabeth Schmidt let the team in digs with 15.