While winning sectional titles isn’t anything new to the program, this year’s regional proves a different challenge for the Trinity Lutheran volleyball team.
The IHSAA changed the regional format — by unanimous decision (17-0) last December — for 2017.
Regionals now field four teams with both matches taking place Saturday at a predetermined location.
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In years past, there were two teams in each regional with one of those schools hosting the match.
The Cougars (21-13) will play at the Class A Loogootee Regional on Saturday, starting with a match against Barr-Reeve at noon.
Cougars coach Chelsea Stroub and her players like the new regional setup.
By the old standard, the Cougars would have played Tuesday, just three days after the sectional championship. Instead of one day of practice, the Cougars now get five leading up to the regional.
“Previously, it was you have sectional on Saturday, practice Monday and then you play regional on Tuesday. It felt like you were rushing,” Cougars senior Courtney Barker said.
Trinity played the Vikings in its first-round matchup at the Barr-Reeve Invitational on Sept. 2. The Cougars topped the hosts 25-23, 25-20.
“(The Vikings) are very scrappy and pretty good with ball control,” Stroub said. “They’re young but very talented. We’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game to win.”
Should the Cougars top the Vikings, they will play the winner of Rock Creek Academy and Springs Valley in the championship at 7 p.m.
The Cougars beat Rock Creek 3-1 on its home floor this season and haven’t played the Blackhawks.
Trinity fields a young roster this season with just two seniors in the rotation. With so many young players, keeping even-keeled will be vital for the Cougars.
“We’re going to need to not freak out,” Cougars senior Abby Hackman said. “That’s our biggest issue. We’re a mental team, and if we overthink it, we are out of it. We’re a very young team. I remember being nervous playing in regional. I don’t think it will be an issue.”
Stroub said she hopes the intensity from Saturday’s sectional at Edinburgh carries over to the regional.
“They need to stay confident and play their game,” she said. “We need to stay in control and have a little bit of fun. Hopefully, that will take away some of the nerves.
“We had a fast pace, and I hope we continue that. I think if we can continue doing that, we can continue going as far as we want to this year.”
In this year’s regional, the Cougars also are facing another major change that’s out of their control: Christian Academy of Indiana is now in Class 2A. Christian Academy had knocked the Cougars of the postseason three straight years before being bumped up a class due to the success factor.
The Warriors finished runner-up in the state tournament in 2016 and 2014 and were champions in 2015.
Knowing that Christian Academy isn’t in the mix makes a difference.
“It makes us feel more confident,” Stroub said. “We don’t think it will be a walk in the park at all. It makes us feel a little bit better. Every year, it’s OK we have to play (Christian Academy).”
The Cougars have three regional crowns to their credit with the most recent from 2012.
“I think it’s going to be good,” Stroub said. “We’ve played at Loogootee this year, so we’re used to that court. I think it’s going to be fun for the girls.”