A couple of late-game calls swung Trinity Lutheran’s way on Saturday, allowing the Cougars to capture their own volleyball invitational.
Trinity and Brown County were 2-0 on the day going into the final match. The Eagles won the first set 25-18, but the Cougars forced a third set with a 25-12 win.
Brown County then scored the first four points of the third set and led by as many as six before serving long. The Cougars then got two tips by Sydney Stuckwisch, a kill by Mallory Barker and an ace from Hayley Carter to pull within 11-10.
Trinity committed back-to-back errors and called a timeout, and then the Cougars scored three straight points behind the serving of Whitney Rogers to even the score at 13. Stuckwisch then came up with a tip, and Brown County’s coach thought Stuckwisch made contact with the net, but the officials said it was one of the Eagle players.
Brown County got that point back before serving wide, which the coach questioned, and Haylee Barker blocked an Eagle attack to give the Cougars a 16-14 win and the tournament trophy. They are now 14-8 on the season.
“I hate that it came down to that because it’s never fun when you think it came down to a call or two,” Cougars coach Chelsey Hackman said. “I think they were called properly. It is hard because I think it takes away from the girls’ win, and I hate that for them because they fought back and they played hard.”
In the second set, Hackman said the difference was her team’s defense.
“(The Eagles) were doing a lot of soft shots, roll shots, tips, that kind of stuff (in the first set), and so we started picking up on that,” she said. “Our defense picked it up, our passing was a little bit better and our blocking stepped up the game.”
In the third set, Stuckwisch scored points on three of her four tip attempts.
“I try to typically swing toward the beginning (of the match), and then when (the opponents) start all going deep, I’ll start tipping and they won’t be able to cover them,” Stuckwisch said. “You kind of just feel while you’re doing it where the holes are and where you need to place (the ball).”
Stuckwisch said she was glad to see the team maintain its composure during the tough calls late in the match. At the end, she and Barker both went up to block an Eagle attack, and Barker got her hand on it.
“That block was all Haylee Barker,” Stuckwisch said. “She was pretty pumped. For a shorter blocker, she was really excited about that.”
The Class A No. 13 Cougars started the day by defeating Crothersville 25-14, 25-12 and then eased past Shoals 25-11, 25-10.
Crothersville’s second match was a 25-14, 25-15 loss to Brown County. There were eight ties in the second set before back-to-back Crothersville errors gave Brown County the lead for good.
“Our movement was a lot better,” Tigers coach Zabrina Nicholson said of the second set. “We were picking up digs we usually wouldn’t pick up. We were covering blocks. We played more as a team much better that second game.”
That carried into the first set of their final match against Shoals, when they built an 8-1 lead behind the serving of Sam Spall and went on to win 25-14.
The Jug Rox scored the first four points of the second set, but the Tigers later went on a 6-0 run to take an 11-9 lead, capped off by Shelby Worley’s ace. With the score at 11-all, though, Shoals scored consecutive points and managed to hold onto the lead and win 25-16.
The teams traded runs in the third set before Worley’s serving helped the Tigers even the score at 10. But she then served into the net, and Shoals scored four of the final five points.
This was Crothersville’s third straight weekend playing in a tournament, and Nicholson felt that caught up with her team, which dropped to 3-17.
“We’re very tired. We’re ready for some time off,” Nicholson said. “But the team has been clicking a lot better. Some of the girls are used to playing next to each other, but some of them aren’t, so they’ve gotten a lot more experience with each other. The freshmen that are playing with me have had to step up and learn some things, and they’ve progressed.”
This also was the second tournament without middle hitter Mackenzie Farmer. Nicholson expects her to be back for today’s conference match at home against Henryville.
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