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Local Sports

Vana, Sandwich keep it going, beat Plano for seventh straight win

Lady Indians cruise to 25-11, 25-11 victory

SANDWICH – Jaylynn Vana is not a girl to get caught up in numbers.

So when Sandwich coach Selynda Kern proudly reported that the Indians won their seventh straight match Thursday, it was news to her senior middle.

"We have?" Vana said. "I don't keep track. I just keep going."

The Lady Indians have got it going on lately.

Sandwich won its own invitational last weekend, and the momentum has carried over. The Lady Indians made short work of neighboring rival Plano Thursday, taking the Interstate Eight Conference match 25-11, 25-11.

Is Vana satisfied? Hardly.

"We got to keep going," Vana said. "We can't live in the moment. We have to focus on the future, game by game. We can't underestimate other teams. We always have to go into a game thinking they're the best and we have to play our best."

Vana had five kills and four digs, Ava Knepper 11 assists, seven service points and eight digs, Olive Tornga eight digs, Audrey Rome four kills and two digs and Casey Delphey five digs for Sandwich, which was coming off a win over Morris Tuesday.

Sandwich (14-7, 3-2) was at its best as the match progressed Thursday.

The Indians actually trailed the first set 9-8. But a Rome smash got Sandwich back on serve, and set off a decisive 8-0 run. Vana had a block, slammed down a Plano overpass and converted a quick-set kill from Knepper during the stretch.

Tornga had back-to-back aces, Vana put down an overpass and then had a nifty flick over the net for set point.

"Today was a really good game," Vana said. "It helped with our serving. We knew which one of their passers were weaker, knew who to serve to. We communicated, knew what spots to go to. We were really clicking.

Indeed, Sandwich's varied, aggressive serving had Plano on its heels and it set the tone into the second set. Knepper had three straight aces for a 6-0 lead that the Reapers couldn't recover from.

Plano (7-10, 0-3), which got two early kills from junior Corrine Davidson, is in the midst of a tough and busy stretch of matches.

"Our biggest thing that we've been focusing on is our confidence," Plano coach Lisa Grandgeorge said. "We're trying to find our identity. Who are we going to be here, and we haven't found our identity. We talk about it a lot. It's a lot to take on."

Sandwich's identity starts with its defense, which has been boosted of late by its improved blocking. With middles like Rome and Vana around, it should be a team strength – and needs to be against the big hitters the Indians will see in the new-look league.

"Our blocking has improved a lot; we started out the year averaging one a match," Kern said. "These last couple matches we've done a good job of stopping their hitters, which makes it a lot easier for our defense. We know we have the defense."

It's helped to have a more set lineup. The Indians got a boost in the last two weeks with the return of outside Sophia Datoli from torn ligaments in her ankle.

"Everybody went back to their normal positions," Kern said. "Sophia is getting stronger and stronger each game and her confidence up. It's a great group."

Grandgeorge thinks she has a great group too, and is waiting for the roller coaster of a season to track back upward.

"I don't want to beat their confidence down in practice, but we have to go harder," Grandgeorge said. "We have to get meaner and set the expectations higher and things will go from there. They know what they're capable of. You catch that roller coaster going up, at some point you go back down. We have to get back up."

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