Cougars claw past 'Hawks, capture third straight crown

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After receiving congratulations from school officials, Trinity Lutheran volleyball coach Chelsey Hackman said this year’s sectional championship had a different feeling than the one she guided the Cougars to a year ago.

On Saturday, Trinity defeated Springs Valley 25-14, 25-9, 25-19 in the championship match of the Class A Sectional 61 at Orleans.

“The last one was a lot closer. That one was a lot tighter, a lot more nerve-racking,” she said. “This one was a little bit easier on my nerves, and the girls came out and played amazing. I couldn’t have asked for them to play any better tonight.”

The Cougars jumped on top early in the first two sets, and then pulled away in the middle of the third set to bring their season record to 31-4.

In the first set, the Cougars were leading 2-1 before Haylee Barker served seven straight points, and they were on top 15-10 when Mallory Barker put down a kill that sparked her team to a 10-4 run and the win. Liz Hill had a kill for set point.

In the second set, a kill by Hannah Barker put the Cougars on top 10-4, and she had another kill that put her team on top 20-8.

“It’s our last year to win this, and if we didn’t win it, this was our last game,” Hannah Barker said. “Our strategy was to get in our base and move back and keep moving forward and talk the whole time on defense. Everything was spot-on tonight. We were talking all together, and our defense was awesome.”

The Blackhawks held an 8-6 lead in the third set before Mallory Barker scored the first and last points during a 5-0 run. After Springs Valley closed the difference to 16-13, Sarah Stuckwisch had a kill that helped the Cougars outscore the Blackhawks 9-6 for the win.

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