Tipp sweeps way to district final: Undefeated Red Devils crush Braves in district semis

NEW CARLISLE — Trips to the district final are quickly becoming commonplace again for the Tippecanoe volleyball team.

There’s a reason for that, though.

“It’s getting to be a habit — but it’s because of the good work of the kids,” Tippecanoe coach Howard Garcia said. “They recognize that they deserve to be there, they want to be there, they want to be able to do well — and it’s the best team on that given day that moves on.”

Wednesday, the undefeated and top-seeded Red Devils earned their fourth straight trip to the district championship match, sweeping No. 3 Springfield Shawnee 25-15, 25-10, 25-16 in the Division II district semifinal Wednesday at Tecumseh High School.

Tippecanoe improved to 24-0 with the win — with 23 of those victories coming via sweep — and will be trying to win its fourth straight district title and make its fourth straight regional tournament appearance when it takes on Taylor Saturday. Springfield Shawnee’s season ended at 7-11.

And in the end, Tippecanoe simply had too many weapons for the scrappy Braves to handle. The Braves were able to keep many rallies going long — but that just gave the Devils a chance to go from hitter to hitter to hitter until one was finally able to put the ball down.

“That’s the way we’ve played the past couple of season, especially this year,” Garcia said. “We have a lot of options and do what we call building the point. We put the other team in a defensive mode and keep swinging until we finish it.”

Corinn Siefring had 10 kills, three blocks, two aces and 10 digs, Rachel Wildermuth had eight kills and 18 assists and Ashley Aselage had seven kills and three blocks to lead the Devils’ balanced attack. Molly Achtenburg added four kills, Olivia Gustavson had three blocks, Alaina Titley had 17 digs, Kaitlyn Husic had 11 digs and Hannah Wildermuth had 15 assists.

Still, Shawnee kept the the early part of the first set close, even holding a lead as late as 12-11. But Siefring put down a kill and Titley served five straight points to make it 16-12 Devils, then Siefring added a six-point run later as Tippecanoe closed the set out on a 14-3 run.

“I think it came down to us being a little nervous in the beginning,” Garcia said. “But after that, everything settled and we were able to adjust to their slow speed with our quick speed.

“We’ve got to understand that we can’t play the same way as the other team in regards to the speed of play. When our speed of play starts increasing, we start hitting the middles, going to the pins quick, back-row attack — we’ve got a lot of options, and that’s why we can take teams down.”

From there, the Devils calmly and meticulously broke the Braves down, building a 13-2 lead in the second set and coasting to a 2-0 lead and then winning points in bunches of two and three and never letting Shawnee get on a run in the third to close it out.

“On our scouting report, they had a couple of attackers, especially (Ashley Dingeman), so we focused a lot on her,” Garcia said. “When she got the ball, our blockers were really in tune with her.

“We have a lot of good servers that are pretty accurate most of the time, and it puts a lot of pressure on the other team’s serve receive. If we are able to break down the opposing team’s serve receive, like today, they’re going to give us an easy play and we’re going to get a better swing.”

Tippecanoe will face either Taylor at 2 p.m. Saturday at Fairmont’s Trent Arena. The No. 3 seed in the Princeton sectional, Taylor outlasted No. 4 Summit Country Day in five sets in Wednesday’s other district semifinal.