FORT WAYNE — Blackhawk Christian survived some nervous moments early, then played to its strengths in a four-game win over Lakewood Park Christian in the Class 1A sectional finals Saturday. Scores were 24-26, 26-24, 25-18, 25-16.
The host Braves (22-11) moved on to the Culver Regional next Saturday and will face the Southwood Sectional winner.
The two-time defending champion Panthers (20-8) were turning up the heat early before a deafening crowd. They dodged a game point for the Braves and took the opener 26-24.
Blackhawk opened an eight-point lead in the second game, but Lakewood steadily hacked away. The Braves led 24-21, and appeared to be feeling the pressure when the Panthers denied them on three straight game points to tie it. Blackhawk wouldn’t let them finish the job this time, however, taking a 26-24 win of their own.
Blackhawk settled in after that and were powered by the net presence of Abigail Cresse and Allie Boyer as they avoided any further close calls.
A tip by Cresse put Blackhawk on the verge in game one at 24-23, but Haley Kruse answered with a kill for the Panthers. She followed that with a block to give Lakewood Park game point, and they won it on an errant attack by the Braves.
Blackhawk was up 17-9 in game two. Back-to-back kills by Kruse pulled the Panthers within 20-18.
Delaney Kintz scored on a tip to put the Braves ahead 24-21, but a kill by Ashley Zak, and ace by Aubrey Zak and a tip by Lauren Kurtz tied the game, but Lakewood missed its next attack long.
A block by Kintz ended the game for the Braves,
Blackhawk sprinted to an 8-2 lead in the third game. Lakewood made several rally attempts, and got within 16-14 on a kill of a stray pass by Cassie Swing, but could get no closer.
An early run sent the Braves to a 10-1 lead in the fourth game, with Boyer scoring on three kills during the run.
The Panthers would get no closer than within seven, the last time on a Kruse kill that made it 22-15, but Blackhawk finished off the win.