In a repeat matchup of last year’s regional bout, the Trinity Lutheran volleyball team couldn’t pull off the upset against Class A No. 2 powerhouse Christian Academy.
The Warriors advanced to the semistate round with a 25-16, 25-18, 25-23 win against the Cougars at the Bollinger Athletic Complex on Tuesday.
From the start, the Warriors made their offensive presence known.
In the first set, the Cougars found themselves in an early 8-3 hole behind strong hitting from the Warriors’ Sierra Rayzor and Alli Stumler.
Following a timeout, the Cougars managed back-to-back of points off a kill by sophomore Abby Hackman and a block from junior Lexi Schneider.
The teams hung close until the Warriors were able to distance themselves at 20-14.
Rayzor clinched the opening set with an ace for the Warriors.
The Cougars took their first lead of the night at 7-6 in the second set, and would take a 10-6 lead behind serves from sophomore Courtney Barker.
Up 15-12, the Warriors’ Clara Koch served-up four straight points to distance the deficit.
Despite three serving errors, the Warriors would close the second set at 25-18 off a strong hit by Mackenzie Haworth.
Both teams traded points early in the third set.
Down 19-18, the Cougars won four-straight points, giving the team new energy in the rowdy gymnasium.
Not to be outdone, the Warriors took six of the final seven points to advance to the semi-state round of the postseason.
“I saw a lot of hustle and heart, and I can’t be mad at that,” Cougars first-year coach Chelsea Stroub said. “At the beginning, we were all playing as individuals. We started playing as a team there at the end. As a coach, it’s frustrating we didn’t start like that, but I loved seeing that (change) in the third game. I honestly thought we had that third set.”
Cougars senior Hayley Barker had eight digs while junior Hailley Peters went 16 for 18 with nine kills on the attack.
Senior Haylee Barker made all eight of her serves with an ace and notched nine hits with four kills.
Stroub said she was happy with the growth she saw in the girls as the season progressed, and that they made huge strides in their pursuit of the ball.
“They’ve grown both individually and as a team,” she said. “It’s through the roof. Our hustle got a lot better. We were diving for balls that I think we were afraid to go after at the beginning of the season. Every aspect of our game grew up until the end.”
The Cougars will graduate Carter, Haylee Barker, Taylor Reynolds, Anne Franke and Kayla Stuckwisch from the varsity program.
“They have contributed a lot,” Stroub said of her seniors. “They each bring different things to our program on and off the court. I’m going to miss them greatly. They’ve helped me grow as a coach. They’re a great group of girls.”
The Warriors will face Indianapolis Tindley on Saturday, who defeated Bloomfield 25-20, 21-25, 18-25 and 15-12, in the Loogootee semistate semifinals.
With the loss, the Cougars finish their 2015 season 21-10, including a Sectional 61 title.