Between the second and third set of Saturday night’s Class A volleyball sectional final at Trinity Lutheran, the tune “Eye of the Tiger” came over the loudspeaker.
That could be Trinity Lutheran’s theme song this season, even though its nickname is Cougars.
They played with that style in the championship game, dispatching West Washington 25-8, 25-8, 25-13 a handful of hours after polishing off Jac-Cen-Del 25-5, 25-10, 25-8 in the semifinal while also applying the same focus in Thursday night’s first-round sweep of Oldenburg Academy.
The Cougars looked smooth and confident, unruffled about being in the state playoffs while taking the first step toward capturing the state crown that barely eluded them in the title game last season.
Winning the sectional — their seventh straight — at home in the Bollinger Athletic Center before advancing to regional play at Loogootee against Rock Creek Academy next Saturday afternoon was particularly satisfying.
“It’s the best feeling ever in front of our fans,” said senior setter Bailey Reynolds, who posted 34 assists in the championship game after collecting 32 in the earlier match versus Jac-Cen-Del.
Senior Sydney Jaynes had 12 kills, and several of them early set a tone at the net warning West Washington it would not be able to keep up with the Cougars. She felt the same as Reynolds that this was sort of providing a goodbye gift to fans in the last home game of her career.
“It feels really good,” Jaynes said. “It’s super cool.”
The Indiana High School Athletic Association does not have a policy resembling the National Hockey League, which allows for each player on a championship team to take the Stanley Cup home for a day.
However, after posing for team pictures, the Cougars were able to pose individually with the sectional trophy and invite family members into the photos as players held the hardware for a moment.
During the daytime semifinal, Kennedy Hoffman ripped 11 kills and Jaynes added 10 with Ruth Bingham providing eight and Bailey Tabeling six.
Kamzi Gross had five aces serving and Stella Kleffman four. Gross led the team with 10 digs and Kleffman, Elly Carter and Tabeling each gathered six.
West Washington had a first-round bye in the sectional. Rising Sun knocked out Medora on Tuesday, but then the Shiners forfeited the scheduled Saturday match with West Washington because of a positive coronavirus test. West Washington advanced directly into the final.
Trinity burst to leads of 6-1, 16-3 and 23-7 in the first set, provoking the Senators into timeouts to slow down the pace.
It was much of the same in the second set with the Cougars building a big lead at a slightly slower rate of speed.
The only blip for Trinity came in the third set. West Washington’s timeouts had been catch-your-breath breaks to avoid being stampeded. Trinity coach Faith Wilder-Newland called one at 7-7 in the third after her team hit a sloppy stretch.
Wilder-Newland was frowning over some messy serving, which otherwise had been stellar throughout the match.
“I just wanted to take a break and talk about it,” she said. She wanted to head off bad habits. “And it didn’t happen again.”
Reynolds said Wilder-Newland had a simple message in the timeout huddle.
“She just told us to settle down,” Reynolds said.
Appropriately enough, Jaynes, who started the match off with a bang, or several bangs, actually, belting kills at net, ended the contest with kills for the last two points.
Hoffman, whose 13 kills exceeded Jaynes’ total, and Jaynes were weapons West Washington could not cope with at the net.
“Oh, for sure. Bailey puts it in the right place,” Jaynes said of the setup passes. “We just whale on it.”
For her part, Reynolds thinks her job is easy feeding Hoffman and Jaynes. Just tap them a sweetheart of a pass and stand back.
“We’ve got some bomber hitters,” Reynolds said.
The ball was hit so hard so frequently by Jaynes and Hoffman, it probably required postgame medical treatment, although West Washington was given a game ball as sectional runner-up to take home.
It did not carry the same cache as the trophy the Cougars passed around.