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Ole Miss tops Heritage in five for sectional win

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INDIANS: Mississinewa's Cailyn Bolser puts down one of her 27 kills in helping the Indians to a thrilling 3-2 win over Heritage in the opening round of the Class 3A Norwell Sectional Thursday evening.
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GIANTS: Marion's Lucia Persinger (8) and Mi'Kell Moore await service from Bishop Luers in the Giants' 3-0 loss to the Knights in the opening round of the 3A Norwell Sectional Thursday night.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

OSSIAN — The Mississinewa volleyball team didn't have its best start to its opening 3A sectional match against Heritage Thursday evening, but the ending couldn't have been any better for the Indians.

Seniors Cailyn Bolser and Halle Planck dominated play at the net, at times, and Ole Miss rallied from dropping the first set to knock off the Patriots, 23-25, 25-12, 25-21, 18-25, 15-13. The win moves Mississinewa into a Saturday semifinal match with host Norwell at 11 a.m.

The second semifinal will feature 13-time defending sectional champion Bellmont meeting Fort Wayne Luers, who swept past Marion, 3-0.

It's been a long been a long season of learning and growing pains for the Giants, and after starting off with a 4-0 lead in the opening set, Luers clawed its way back before closing the set with a 17-3 run and a 25-12 win.

Luers maintained momentum through the final two sets and ended Marion's season at 2-30 with 25-7, 25-10 scores. 

"It's a young team and we have not had a single break all year," said Giants' first-year coach Larry Hinshaw. "Considering what they’ve been through they’ve fought hard, they’ve kept their heads up and tried to get better. I can’t be more proud of that.

"Now they see what the opposition is, they see a little more vision of what they need to change," Hinshaw added. "They’re pretty committed to make the change for next year. It should be a lot of fun in the offseason."

What the second match lacked in competition and drama, the match between Ole Miss and Heritage made up for.

The Indians were a little tentative in the opening set, and though they were able to keep within striking distance of Heritage took their first lead at 4-3 and maintained it throughout the, 25-23 win.

"To be honest, it's we came in with some nerves I think." said Ole Miss' first-year coach Jody Bolser of the Indians slow start. "You do what you can to prepare, mentally and physically, you do everything, then you walk in and you see the opponent. We didn't freeze but they played kind of timid and we're notorious for that."

Any nerves that hampered Ole Miss in the opening set were gone quickly in the second. The Indians jumped in front 9-4, extended the lead to 17-8 and never let Heritage draw any closer than seven points in the dominating 25-12 win.

The third set was back-and-forth until Heritage pulled in front 13-9, but the Indians fought their way back, finally tying the score at 17-17 with the first of five-straight points. Again, Heritage would draw no closer than three before Ole Miss finished with a 25-21 decision.

The Patriots controlled the third set from the start, jumping ahead 10-4. The Indians pulled within 12-8 and 15-11 but no closer and Heritage evened the match 25-18.

The fifth set was a true nail biter, neither side leading by more than a point until the Indians went up 7-5. Heritage immediately answered with three of the next four to go up 9-8. Mississinewa forged ahead 10-9 and the match was then tied again at 10, 11 and 12. Heritage scored two straight to move in front 13-12 but a pair of kills by Cailyn Bolser sandwiched around a hitting error by the Patriots gave the final three points, and 15-13 win to the Indians.

Coach Bolser wasn't sure her team would have won that match earlier in the season, but the Indians are playing with confidence and showed it bouncing back from the early hole.

"The Indians of the early season didn't have that confidence quite yet, so that was good to see," Jody Bolser said.

Cailyn Bolser, who is bound to play at Ball State next season, was a force for Ole Miss. She led the Indians with 27 kills and also had three blocks. Senior Halle Planck added 10 kills and four blocks, while junior Caily Bolser finished with three kills and five very timely blocks.

Coach Bolser felt like the team fed off her eldest daughter Cailyn's play.

"I think we felt her confidence," Jody Bolser said. "I felt like the setters were willing to put it in her hands because they felt like she was ready and thats a confidence boost for a hitter because she knows hey my team is relying on me."

The Indians enter Saturday's semifinal match on a roll, having earned a share of the CIC title last Thursday and following it up with their second-straight Grant Four on Saturday.

Coach Bolser hopes the win against Heritage is just a good start to a special offseason.

"I don't think they're satisfied," she said. "I was excited to get in the locker room and see how it was, and they're ready to go to work."