Cougars ready to get the season started


Trinity Lutheran has high hopes for this season, and they’ve got the talent to fulfill those increasing expectations.

Coming off the heels of a Class A volleyball state runner-up, the Cougars have only just now gotten back the rest of their team and are practicing at full strength. 

Three of those key players are senior Hannah Sabotin, junior Sydney Jaynes and freshman Bailey Tabeling. 

Yet, practice began for the rest of the Cougar team back on Oct. 28 and coach Mike Lang had to juggle how many of his schemes he wanted to work in. 

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"You don’t want to get too far ahead," he explained. "Because with those kids coming back to the team, you’re going to have to re-teach everything."

For the rest of October and early November the Cougars were mostly doing a lot of conditioning work in preparation for, what they hope, is a long season. 

"We’re just getting back to the basics. The kids might get bored of practice because we’re not doing the fun things, but we’re doing the important things."

Trinity will get their season started on Saturday against Hauser, who will have already played four games by the time they travel to Seymour. 

Still, even without having played a game yet this season, the Cougars are ranked No. 4 in Class A according to the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association (ICGSA) and are an early favorite to cut down the sectional nets this year for the first time since 2018. 

Last season, the Cougars’ season was cut short thanks to West Washington, who won 59-35. Lang states his girls just weren’t getting after loose balls in that game and the Senators seemingly couldn’t miss. 

The Cougars graduated four seniors from last year’s group that went 17-10, but they’ll get some key additions they hope will push them into greater things.

Tabeling stands to be one of the better freshmen in the area and is not only coming off a successful inaugural high school volleyball campaign, but also a great summer.

Lang praised her summer workouts and marveled at a few of the breakout games she had at a camp at Indiana University this year.

"She’s just a dynamic scorer, she can attack the basket, create her own shot and if you sag off on her, she’ll drain shots from 25 feet," Lang said.

Though much of the attention this year will be on junior Sydney Jaynes, who sports multiple Division I offers heading into this season. 

Jaynes, a 6-foot-3-inch power forward was the Cougars’ leading scorer last year at 14.2 points per game and she also was the second leading rebounder (7.5 rpg).

"We’ve got some goals for her that we want to see her accomplish and we’re going to push her to achieve those goals," Lang said. "She’s one of the hardest working players that I’ve had come through the program. She’s make everybody better around her."

Jaynes will be counted on to be a premier scorer for the Cougars this season, but Lang notes how much of a pass-first player she is. 

She led the Cougars in assists per game (3.2) last season. 

"The one thing everybody looks at is how many points she scores," Lang said. "One thing about Sydney is that she is one of the most unselfish kids that I’ve ever coached. She’s always wanting to get her teammates involved."

There have been moments where Jaynes could have had big scoring games according to Lang, but she’s so team-first oriented that she passed up the opportunities. 

"We were playing Providence last year where she had so many point-blank looks that she probably could have had 34 points or so," Lang said. "We had a lead though and she wanted to get her teammates involved. That’s the kind of player she is; as long as we get the W, Sydney is happy."

Since Lang took over the Trinity program in 2011, the Cougars have not had any problems scoring victories. Each year Lang has been at the helm, they’ve earned double-digit wins and that’s even with a beefed-up scheduled with more 3A and 4A teams. 

Besides Brownstown Central early in the year, the Cougars will play a host of 3A and 4A schools. Their final four games of the regular season will be against Brown County, Floyd Central, Jennings County and Madison. 

Those games should help prepare the Cougars for a shot at their fourth sectional title. 

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