New sectional. No problem.
Having won three straight Class A Sectional 61 titles, the Trinity Lutheran volleyball team captured its first one playing in Sectional 62 on Saturday night, defeating West Washington 25-18, 25-16, 25-16.
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Trinity (21-13) reached the championship by defeating host Edinburgh 25-13, 25-19, 25-13 on Saturday afternoon, while West Washington defeated Shawe Memorial 25-15, 25-16, 25-21 in the other semifinal match.
For Cougars coach Chelsea Stroub, this was her third sectional title.
“It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling every single time. It’s exciting,” she said. “Obviously, we have some stuff to work on before next week, but overall, we played really well. We played really well together.”
In the title tilt, West Washington battled early on, forcing the seventh tie of the first set on a kill. The Senators then had a serving error, and Trinity went on to build a 13-8 lead and stayed in front.
The second set was tied at 8 when Trinity’s Abby Schult had a block to kick off a 6-0 run, forcing a West Washington timeout. Sydney Jaynes came on strong late with four kills to help finish off the set.
Then in the third set, a Senators passing error broke a 7-all score, and the Cougars remained on top to close out the match.
Hannah Sabotin’s serving later gave them a 22-14 lead. After a couple of Trinity errors, Chloe Criswell got the sideout with a kill. Moments later, Lauren Knieriem came off of the bench and served an ace for match point.
Going from the afternoon match to the championship, Stroub said the key for her team was to keep their tempo.
“Because at the beginning of that game, (the Senators) were playing, too, so we started playing slower, and that gets us out of our game whenever we have to play slower,” she said. “We’re working on keeping our tempo the whole game and just cutting down on our errors.”
In the semifinals, Trinity and Edinburgh met for the second Saturday in a row. The week before, the Cougars defeated the Lancers in two sets in the Edinburgh Tournament.
In the first set of the sectional match, Trinity built an 8-1 lead and never trailed the rest of the way.
The second set was a different story.
The score was tied nine times with neither team pulling ahead by more than two points.
Edinburgh’s Taylor Tatlock scored her fourth point of the set to make it 11-11. Schult then had a kill on an overpass, and the Cougars maintained the lead from there.
With the score tied at 7 in the third set, Sabotin had three kills and a block, Schult recorded a kill and Ashley Goecker served an ace to create some separation. The Cougars cruised from there.
Senior setter Courtney Barker helped the team win sectional for the fourth year in a row, while senior Abby Hackman said this was her third year being a part of the varsity squad.
“It has been really awesome for me because my freshman year, I played with my sister and my cousin, and then sophomore year, I played with my cousin, so it has been fun just being varsity in general, but then with my family, it’s just really fun to do that,” Barker said.
“It’s awesome because with basketball, it’s opposite. It’s hard. It’s difficult,” Hackman said of sectional play. “But with volleyball, we’ve always been a pretty good volleyball team, so we come in here, we play like we know how and we win. It’s what we do.”
Both girls were happy with the team’s play on the day.
“This morning, it started off pretty slow, but we picked it up, and same with tonight,” Barker said. “We tend to start off slow, but in the end, we fight back because I know all of the girls have a lot of heart for the game, and we all just wanted to win really bad.”
Hackman said all season, the Cougars have focused on playing as a team and playing together because they are young with six freshmen.
“It has been a really big goal for us to work together and mesh very quickly because we don’t have all of this time because us seniors are about to leave and we’ve got freshmen who make up most of our team,” she said.
Trinity moves on to Saturday’s Loogootee Regional, where it will face Barr-Reeve, which won the Sectional 63 title on its home court against Loogootee.
The Cougars defeated the Vikings in a tournament earlier in the season.
“We’re just going to have to cut down on our errors,” Stroub said of her team heading into regional. “That’s a lot of it. We’re not really worried about who’s on the other side because if we can play our game, I’ll put our team up against anybody. I truly would. If we just play our game, I think we’ll be fine.”
Trinity will play the second game around 1 p.m. The 11 a.m. match will feature Rock Creek Academy and Tecumseh or Springs Valley.
“I think we have a really good chance in regional if we just try our very hardest,” Barker said. “We have a lot of potential. We didn’t exactly show our full potential tonight, and if we come out as strong as we can, we can definitely win regional.”