NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo High School volleyball team finished strong in three straight sets against Lake Michigan Catholic on Monday, Oct. 29, to advance in Division 4 district tournament play.

Coach Kevin Labaj said his players cut down on mistakes and served well.

“We got to take the team to see a Notre Dame game last night ... They saw how fast-paced the game could be and I think it brought the best out of them today.”

Trailing 20-19 in the opener, the host Bison got kills from Olivia Haskins and Kira Arvanitis to help pull out a 25-21 victory.

Two ace serves by Mary Mayer and a Sophia DeOliveira kill had powered New Buffalo out to a 6-3 lead, but strong play at the net from Emily Lage and ace serves by Caroline Miota and Elena Proos brought the Lakers back even at 14-all.

Neither squad could gain much of an edge in the second contest until a DeOliveira ace, an Arvanitis kill and Morgan Motycka’s point-scoring tip helped open up a 15-11 advantage. LMC stormed back to forge an 18-18 tie with Lage delivering two kills and Hattie Latham scoring points on an ace and a kill.

New Buffalo answered by reeling off six straight points, with DeOliveira providing a tip, a flip (over the net and onto the gym floor) and a spike.

Lage made it a game, with a kill and two aces cutting the lead down to 24-22.

DeOliveira ended the suspense when her well-placed tip eluded the Laker defense to leave the final tally 25-22.

An ace serve by Miota and three point-scoring hits from Lage helped Lake Michigan Catholic build an early 6-2 margin in the third set, but an Allie Smith kill and Rachel Hoffstetter’s ace were instrumental in tying the score at 9-9.

Lage came through with a series of tips and kills to power the Lakers on top 15-13. Consecutive spikes the gym floor by DeOliveira, a Motycka ace serve, a block by Clair Workman and Smith, a point-scoring lob from Mayer and DeOliveria’s ace fueled a 10-2 Bison stampede. A kill by Smith and Haskins’ ace serve accounted for the last two points of a 25-19 triumph that completed the sweep.

“We had our composure this game,” said Smith.

DeOliveira said the Bison were trying to stay enthusiastic after a recent lackluster match against the Lakers during the BCS White Division tournament.

“We decided to keep our heads up and just focus on the game,” she said.

The Bison are scheduled to take on Covert Wednesday, Oct. 31. River Valley faces Michigan Lutheran that night in the other semifinal (game time is 5:30 p.m.).

The title match is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3.

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