Cougars dominate Shiners for sixth straight sectional title



Trinity Lutheran’s volleyball program has a four-part plan for the postseason.

On its home floor Saturday, the Class A No. 1-ranked Cougars completed the first phase of its grand scheme by sweeping Rising Sun 25-5, 25-14, 25-13 for the Sectional 62 title.

By topping the Shiners (15-14), Trinity (27-5) won its sixth straight sectional crown, including the ninth in school history.

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"It’s just so exciting for the kids. Every year, especially for the seniors, it’s a result of a lot of hard work," Trinity coach Faith Wilder-Newland said. "I’m just so proud of this team. They’ve worked hard, been very positive in practice and supported each other. It has been a real pleasure to work with them."

On Saturday, the Cougars will face the host of the Loogootee Regional following the 10 a.m. match between Springs Valley and Rock Creek Academy. Should the Cougars beat the Lions, they will compete for the title at 7 p.m. 

On Oct. 3, the Cougars edged the Lions in five sets 25-17, 22-25, 25-15, 23-25, 15-13. Trinity also boasts a 25-21, 25-14, 25-21 win over Rock Creek this year.

Trinity hasn’t won a regional since 2012. Last year, the Cougars fell to Barr-Reeve — the eventual state champion — in three sets in the regional finals. 

Due to the IHSAA’s success factor, the Cougars will not go up against the Vikings this fall, as they’ve moved up to Class 2A.

The furthest the Cougars have advanced in a postseason is to the state finals, reaching the grand stage in 2011.

Going into the final match of the sectional, the Cougars had given up just 27 total points across six sets.

Trinity came out firing in the first set, winning 19 straight points to lead 23-4 to open the match. After an error broke the scoring spree, the Cougars closed the set at 25-5.

The Cougars led 9-8 before putting together a 7-1 run to open up the margin in the second set. Trinity won the final seven points of the set to take a 2-0 lead.

In the final set, the Cougars used an 8-0 run to lead 10-3 and never looked back.

Hannah Sabotin, Trinity’s lone senior, led the Cougars with 14 kills and five blocks, junior Kennedy Hoffman had nine kills and two blocks and junior Sydney Jaynes finished with eight kills and two blocks. The Cougars went 69-for-77 in hits with 45 kills and 14 blocks.

Cougars junior Elly Carter led the team with three aces, junior Bailey Reynolds racked up 34 assists and sophomore Kamzi Gross totaled 12 digs.

Earlier in the day, the Cougars dominated Medora 25-3, 25-4, 25-3. The Hornets finished with a 1-26 overall record for its 2019 season.

Wilder-Newland said she thought the team had strong mental toughness in the three sectional matches, and she believes it will continue to build as the postseason continues.

"We didn’t have that many unforced errors in the sectional," she said. "This morning, we didn’t have any hitting errors and only one serve reception error. I think we’ve done really well at keeping our focus and not making mental errors."

There was one first on the night for Trinity, as the Cougars claimed their first trophy on their home floor. The Cougars hadn’t ever hosted a volleyball sectional until this past week.

Sabotin said playing at home was a big advantage, and the team is looking forward to a strong week of practice before the regional.

"It’s another step to our main goal, which is to win state this year," she said. "When our energy is up, we work better together. It was such an advantage to play on our home court. Everyone was here cheering us on, and it was great."

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Trinity Lutheran’s 2019 Sectional 62 Championship Roster

Senior: Hannah Sabotin.

Juniors: Bailey Reynolds, Kennedy Hoffman, Elly Carter, Sydney Jaynes.

Sophomores: Kayla Goecker, Estella Kleffman, Kamzi Gross, Paige Lawrence, Ruthie Bingham.

Freshman: Bailey Tabeling.


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