Tough loss: Cougars overwhelmed by Christian Academy

NEW ALBANY

The volleyball juggernaut that is Class A No. 1 Christian Academy of Indiana refused to be halted on their home floor.

CAI (29-6), the reigning state champions, won their fourth consecutive regional title by defeating Trinity Lutheran 25-22, 25-10, 25-17 on Tuesday.

In the opening set, the Cougars (16-20) came from behind to tie the game at 20-20.

Trinity took the early lead at 5-2 behind blocks by Sydney Stahl, Abby Hackman and a kill from Chloe Criswell.

After tying it at 8-8, CAI went up 13-10.

The Warriors then went on to win the next five points behind serves from Sierra Rayzor.

A kill by Hackman sparked the come from behind seven points scoring string, as Whitney Rogers took over the serving duties to knot the set.

Hailley Peters’ kill put the Cougars back up at 21-20, but a serving error by the Warriors would prove the final point for Trinity as they fell 25-22.

“We had some great serves,” Cougars coach Chelsea Stroub said of the first set. “We had momentum and kept pounding the ball. We were making them make errors. We came into it that (CAI) wasn’t perfect. We knew they could make flaws just like us, and we wanted to point out their little weaknesses.

“Overall, we just wanted to play our game and keep our pace. We wanted to keep our energy up, and we did that here and there — it was just a rollercoaster.”

In the first set, the teams tied six times.

The second set tied five times before CAI claimed nine straight points on serves from Mackenzie Haworth.

The Warriors built a 16 points lead before a kill from Lexi Lester sealed the set at 25-10.

CAI went on a 13-1 run behind strong serving from Lexi Lester to ignite the Warriors in the third set.

“They have a couple of servers who rocked us,” Stroub said. “We couldn’t do anything — even get the ball back over the net. Every time they would hit the 10-foot line, and it killed us. We were down and they kept beating us.”

Hackman slammed a kill to end the streak, and Lexi Schneider added another to make the deficit 16-14.

Trinity saved five match points, highlighted by an athletic split by Whitney Rogers that resulted in a dig, before falling at 25-17.

Hackman led the team with five kills while Schneider and Peters each had three for Trinity.

Courtney Barker and Ashley Goecker both tallied an ace for the Cougars.

Peters, Rogers and Schneider all graduate from the Cougars’ program.

“This group has meant a lot, they’ve got the biggest hearts,” Stroub said of the seniors. “They’re always the first ones on the court and last ones off. They give 110 percent everywhere they go. They have great attitudes and are very coachable.”

Under the success factor, CAI will move up to Class 2A next season if they make it to the state championship match. They will play in the Loogootee semistate this weekend.

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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.