Trinity Lutheran begins state title quest


Trinity Lutheran had more aces than a deck of playing cards — by far.

And that smooth serving combined with ornery serial killing at the net and a proud defense deflected any and all Oldenburg Academy challenges Thursday night as the Cougars opened Sectional play with a convincing victory.

Trinity trumped the Twisters 25-9, 25-8, 25-9, never really letting them get off the ground at the Cougars’ own Bollinger Athletic Center as the host of the 1A Sectional.

"Overall, we hit very well," said Trinity coach Faith Wilder-Newland, whose team has adopted a state-championship-or-bust mentality this season after finishing as 1A runner-up last season. "Generally, I’m pleased at our confidence. We just want to keep that up. I think we played consistently well."

It was 22-4 in the first set, 18-4 in the second, and 23-7 in the third, providing Oldenburg little wiggle room to think about a comeback.

"We were really terrific on hitting our serves," Wilder-Newland said.

Trinity takes its 26-5 record into a Saturday game at 1 p.m. against Jac Cen Del, and the Sectional final is scheduled for 7 p.m. But not everyone gets to continue.

Crothersville (2-22) was swept later Thursday night in Seymour, but gave the Eagles a set-by-set tussle. Jac Cen Del prevailed, 25-13, 25-21, 25-16, ending the Tigers’ season.

For a time, the Tigers were in position to even the match with a 9-4 lead in the second set and a lead that held up until 13-13, But the Eagles sharpened hitting and defense and inched away. In the third set, Jac Cen Del displayed tough serving and that was a difference-maker.

"I definitely thought we’d take it," said Crothersville coach Carly Blevins of the second set. "That was definitely one of our best games of the season."

This was originally a Sectional with three local teams, but Crothersville is out and Medora lost to Rising Sun Tuesday night. However, Rising Sun announced Tuesday it will forfeit its scheduled Saturday 11 a.m. second-round game against West Washington because of the coronavirus.

The Shiners posted a note on the school’s athletic website announcing the cancellation "due to a positive COVID case. All close contacts will be contacted some time today by the Ohio County Health Department. We would like to remind everyone that no one can predict or control COVID. Choose positivity and kindness. Great season ladies!"

Medora began this season with a forced quarantine due to the Hornets’ own virus exposure.

Trinity basically controlled all three sets against Oldenburg, which did not play badly, but could not match up well.

Kennedy Hoffman ripped 8 kills and had 3 aces. Sydney Jaynes matched her with 8 kills (and had 3 blocks) and Ruthie Bingham added 5 kills. The aces were telling. Kamzi Gross, who also had 16 digs, added 5 aces to Bailey Reynolds’ 6. Stella Kleffman was right behind Gross with 11 digs. Reynolds had 30 assists.

"We’ve been working on serving a lot," Hoffman said.

Bingham is generally one of the most important servers, though she made as many contributions with kills this match. She said the atmosphere in state play is "always fun. Any post-season game is fun." Especially if the team wins.

This was step one in Trinity’s pursuit of a state crown, something that has been on the players’ minds all year. They ran all of the way to the title game last year and said they have never stopped concentrating on taking that last step this season.

"The road back to state, you know what it takes," Hoffman said.

Even though the Cougars looked relaxed on the court, Gross said they "brought a lot of energy" to play. "Our team was really ready. We’re ready to make it to state."

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