MICHIGAN CITY — The nickname Aniya Kennedy believes originated in the stands at Slicer Gym last week during the Crown Point match.
"I think it's something the students started," the La Porte sophomore said. "I kind of just laughed. I thought it was funny. It's a cool nickname. I like it."
"The Aniya-lator" lived up to her moniker Thursday against rival Michigan City as Kennedy connected on 11 kills in 16 swings as La Porte dispatched the Wolves, 25-17, 25-18, 25-16.
"Our hitting was good," she said. "A lot more players who usually don't get to swing got to swing like Paige (Conklin). She got a lot of kills. We just distribute the ball more. We had good passes, we ran more combos, more plays. It's really exciting when we do combos and we get kills off of it. It helps confuse the other team. They don't know where we're going."
Kennedy topped a multi-pronged attack that also featured Annalise Warnock (10 kills), Conklin (nine), Lexi Joyner (seven) and Cheyanne Seymour (seven).
"Aniya played really well," LP coach Cassie Holmquest said. "We spread it pretty evenly, across the board. Paige can really hit and with Halle (Seaburg) coming up, we thought we needed to get her hitting. She's gotten more in her comfort zone. She knows what she's doing and she's doing well with it."
Seaburg and Conklin each recorded 17 assists for the Slicers (10-2, 3-1 Duneland Conference), while Olivia Voelker picked up 13 digs.
"I thought maybe we were a little slow to begin, but Game 3, we kind of turned it around, we started transitioning a lot better," Holmquest said. "Things seemed a little bit faster. We blocked well. We worked on blocking and hitting around the block in practice and I saw some of those things. We played well. DAC, away, rival, it's a good win to have."
City (7-3, 2-2), which lost Alexa Sparks to an ankle injury a week ago, had six kills by Ellery Dolezal and Aaliyah Briggs.
"At her height, she's a great hitter, a presence on the floor," MC coach Jim Kaufman said of Sparks, who is expected to be out in the three- to six-week range. "She's making good progress, so we hope to get her back soon. We had to pull up a couple kids who have been floaters and it's taken two to replace her."
A team known more for its defense, City simply couldn't match La Porte's potent front line.
"They're jumpers," Kaufman said. "The whole front line. They're jumping over us. They're a foot above us. Defensively, we can play with teams. Our serve receive has been struggling. We did better on serving. We had a streak where we missed quite a few serves. When we're playing with teams, we can rally. We need the ball to go over the net quite a few times. If we can't serve receive, we're giving them free balls and they're pounding it right back."