ORLEANS

Now that the Trinity Lutheran volleyball team has managed to claim a 2015 Class A Sectional 61 championship, the Cougars find themselves in a familiar position.

The Cougars now have to get through No. 2 Christian Academy for a chance to continue its postseason journey.

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Saturday, the Cougars upended Orleans 25-8, 25-20, 25-19 for the school’s second-straight sectional title.

The Cougars (21-9) will host Christian Academy in the regional championship match Tuesday.

In 2014, the Cougars fell in the exact same round to the Warriors 25-21, 25-16, 25-10 in New Albany.

On Sept. 3, the Warriors bested the Cougars 29-31, 25-23, 25-18, 25-23 in a tightly-contested match.

First-year Cougars coach Chelsea Stroub said her team needs to stay focused on their side of the net in the next meeting.

“We’re just focusing on our side,” Stroub said. “We’ve switched up a lot of things since we first played them, but they probably have also. We’re just going to keep control of our side and play smart.”

Against Orleans, the Cougars came out swinging — leaving little doubt for the outcome.

Following back-to-back kills by Hailley Peters and Lexi Schneider, the Cougars went up 12-4 against the Bulldogs in the first set.

The Cougars’ front line dominated the court, with a handful of players racking-up hits as they went on to win 25-8.

Stroub said she was especially pleased with sophomore Abby Hackman’s play at the net.

“I thought the first game, everyone came out really strong,” she said. “I was really impressed with Abby Hackman. She went out there and just went hard. As soon as she started doing that, I think everyone else fed off her energy.”

The second set started off shaky for the Cougars as they committed numerous unforced errors and found themselves in a 12-8 deficit.

Following a timeout by Stroub, Haylee Barker and Anne Franke recorded back-to-back kills to push momentum in the Cougars’ way.

“I told our girls to play our game (at the timeout),” Stroub said. “The other team wasn’t going to hand us anything. We needed to make them make the errors.”

Barker said that the timeout helped the team regroup.

“After that timeout, we talked about not making mental errors,” she said. “We needed to execute on our plays.”

At 16-16, Barker served-up four-straight winning points to help the Cougars distance themselves from the Bulldogs, before taking the set at 25-20.

“It took a lot of teamwork,” Franke said of the second set. “We all pulled together and said ‘we need to help each other out a bit.’ The parts equaled the whole.”

In the final set, the Cougars traded points with the Bulldogs until a kill from Peters ignited a 6-0 run to put Trinity up 20-11.

Up 23-13, the Cougars dropped five-straight points before eventually closing the match at 25-19.

“We made a few big hits that helped us get runs,” Cougars libero Hayley Carter said. “We put the ball down quick and didn’t let a lot of ball drop, too. It feels good getting another sectional (championship) senior year.”

Stroub said that her five seniors helped earn this year’s title.

“They bring a lot of experience,” Stroub said of the seniors. “Most of them have already played in sectionals. I feel like we were very calm through all of this. They really helped the younger girls stay under control.”

Tigers fall to Trinity

In the 11 a.m. semifinals game, the Cougars made quick work of Jackson County foe Crothersville in a 25-11, 25-13, 25-9 match.“We knew that it would going to be a tough match,” Tigers coach Linda Luedeman said. “Fortunately, on Thursday, we had a good match (against Borden, in the quarterfinals). We had a positive outlook coming into today’s game. Trinity is a strong team. We faced a lot of experience out there.”The Cougars and Tigers had a seesaw affair early in the first set until a block from Franke sparked an 8-0 Trinity run.

A block from Lacey Hall ended the streak, but at that point the Tigers found themselves in an 18-11 hole.

Courtney Barker served-out the final six points to clinch the first game for the Cougars.

Leading the entire way in the second set, the Cougars went up 2-0 in a 25-13 victory.

The Cougars opened the third set on a 9-2 run capped by a kill from Kayla Stuckwisch.

Tigers freshman Maddie Riley recorded a kill to end the run, but the Cougars wouldn’t be denied as they won the third set 25-9.

With the loss, the Tigers finished 12-16 on their 2015 campaign.

The Tigers will return all of their players next season.

“I really enjoyed the girls,” Luedeman said. “I hope that they have learned more about the game. I’m a teaching coach, a teacher at heart. My job was to teach them the game. I think they learned a lot of different strategies and will bring that back (in 2016).

Hornets beaten by Orleans

The Medora volleyball team fell to Orleans 25-18, 25-14, 25- 20 in the semifinals of the Class A Sectional 61 on Saturday.Both teams traded points to start the first set, but the Bulldogs were able to distance themselves on a 5-0 run to go up 15-10.A kill by the Hornets’ Alli Carney ended the brief scoring drought, but Medora couldn’t climb back as they could never cut the deficit to more than six points.

In the second set, the Hornets could never amass more than a two-point lead.

After a mini-run from the Bulldogs, Hornets freshman Kailen Flynn had a kill to stop the home team’s momentum..

However, that momentum swing wouldn’t last long as the Bulldogs capitalized on Hornets errors to build a 20-14 lead.

Four of the final five points in the set went to the Bulldogs on Hornets service return errors.

While the teams traded points through most of the third set, the Bulldogs came back, down 18-15, to finish the match at 25-20.

Carney led the Hornets with 62 passes and nine digs while Flynn headed the attack with 26 hits and six kills.

Hornets coach Sara Todd said she felt like her team didn’t play to its potential in the matchup.

“We knew it was going to be tough, but we knew that it was going to be doable,” Todd said. “Out there on the floor, I don’t know, I just didn’t see that their hearts were in it. I don’t know if they were just done with the season or maybe looking forward to the final game. I know that we’ve been banged-up and bruised, mentally and physically. I just told them to go out and have fun and play hard, and I just don’t think some of them did.”

The Hornets (7-17) will graduate Jadelyn Dean, Megan Weddell and Avery Carney from their program.

“I don’t know what it’s like to walk into a gym and not have those three there,” Todd said. “Every since they could play ball, I’ve been coaching. three starters is hard for a team. It’s hard to replace that experience.”

Todd said that next year’s team will have a different look.

“We will have half our starters back,” Todd said. “I don’t know how many we have coming up from the eighth grade, but we plan on already bringing up a couple of our junior varsity players. We are going to build with what we have. We have two strong middle hitters with Katie (Beesley) and Alli (Carney). I think what we will do is focus on their strong points and fill in the holes from there.”

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Jordan Morey is sports editor at The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at jmorey@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.