For The Tribune

Trinity Lutheran’s volleyball team used strong finishes in both sets to top Seymour 25-20, 25-22 in the finals of the Cougar Cup on Saturday afternoon in the Bollinger Athletic Complex.

Trinity went 3-0 on the day by defeating Jennings County 25-10, 25-23, and Perry Central 25-13, 25-6, while Seymour was a 25-8, 25-11 winner against Perry, and defeated Jennings 25-17, 25-20.

This marked the second time this season that the Cougars have beaten the Owls, and Cougars Coach Chelsea Stroub said she was pleased with the match.

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“I thought it was a real good battle,” she said. “It’s fun playing local teams. The girls both know each other so that’s always just fun in general. We went out and instead of playing scared or anything like that, they went out and played with a lot of heart.”

There are three seniors on the Trinity team and none on the Seymour roster and Stroub said she definitely felt that experience made a difference.

“I thought we played really well today,” she said. “We kept our tempo and played our game. We never did get down. We had solid play today front row and back row. I thought our blocking was really good and our attacking.

“We cut down on a lot of errors today so that was huge. Our serving was aggressive. We were struggling at the beginning of the day keeping our serves in the court but we improved tremendously.”

Seymour coach Holly Birdsong said, “As far as the last match against Trinity I just think they came out ready to play more than we did. We fought back-and-forth with them for a little while. We were running a different line up the last game, but that wasn’t our whole reason for losing.

“I think we did a pretty good job of closing the block on some of their bigger hitters. We didn’t have blocks that were going straight down, but we were getting touches on it. Our defense was pushing through balls and when we were out of system, Emily Corcoran did a good job of stepping in and taking the second ball for us.”

Birdsong said she was pleased to see her team get off to a good start.

“I think in the first two games this morning we did a good job of staying on top of those teams and not letting them get back into our system once we got a good lead, so I was proud of them staying on top,” she said. “Even though they were weaker teams than our last team today we did not let them back in the match, so that was good.

The Cougars held a 14-13 lead in the first set before scoring three straight points with an ace by Bailey Reynolds putting her team on top 17-13.

Trinity had another 3-0 string of points late in the match, and scored set point on a block by Reynolds.

The Cougars jumped on top 4-1 early in the second set, but the Owls kept the pressure on and trailed only 17-16 following a kill by Peyton Levine.

Trinity built a 6-1 lead to take its biggest lead of the set at 23-17. Seymour closed to trail 24-22 following an ace by Makenna Fee before the Cougars scored match point to improve to 13-11 for the season.

Abby Schult and Hannah Sabotin each had seven kills for the Cougars, while Jessica Blevins topped the Owls with 10 kills.

Trinity only missed one serve, while the Owls missed five serves.

Chloe Criswell had three kills and Courtney Barker served four aces in the win over Perry, while Schult had seven kills against Jennings.

Blevins had 12 kills and served four aces against Perry, and she had nine kills and Emily Corcoran served three aces against Jennings.

For the day, Ashley Goecker had 24 digs and Criswell 22 digs to lead the Cougars, while Corcoran had 30 digs and Blevins 28 digs to top the Owls.

“Overall, there is improvement going on,” Birdsong said. “It doesn’t always show up in points on game day but you do see them within rallies and some of our younger girls are starting to step up and take charge of things that they haven’t been doing, and some of our older girls are starting to rely on them a little more and know that they’re going to be there to help them out.”

Trinity (13-11) will travel to Oldenburg Academy tonight, while Seymour (7-20) will travel to Brownstown Central Tuesday night.

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Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.