Trinity Lutheran volleyball eliminated from 1A playoffs



Coach Faith Wilder-Newland said her Trinity Lutheran volleyball team made a few more mistakes than Loogootee on Saturday night in the finals of the Loogootee Class A regional.

It cost the Cougars. The Lions won 25-16, 25-23, 25-16 to gain revenge for a regular-season loss and advance to a semistate at either Jennings County or Jasper.

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After Loogootee topped Springs Valley in the first match Saturday morning, Trinity sent Rock Creek Academy home with a 19-25, 25-11, 25-17, 25-11 loss.

The Cougars, ranked No. 1 in Class A, finished 29-6 a year after being state runner-up.

Trinity couldn’t put enough long strings of points together against No. 2 Loogootee as it had been accustomed to doing throughout the season.

“They played really well,” Wilder-Newland said of the Lions. “They served aggressively. We probably got out of our game a little bit and missed a lot of serves in that first set.”

The Cougars opened up a 5-1 lead following an ace by Estella Kleffman before the Lions charged back by going on a 14-4 run to take a 15-9 lead.

Kennedy Hoffman had a kill for the Cougars to close Loogootee’s lead to 23-16 before the Lions scored the final two points with Makenzie VanHoy getting a kill for set point.

“We had trouble handling the first ball and their tips,” Wilder-Newland said. “That was a big thing in the first set. They kind of jumped on us, and we weren’t ready for that.

“In the second set, we had a lead and we were very competitive, and it was all the way down to the wire. They just made a couple more plays than we did. We did not serve or pass as well as we normally do.”

Loogootee moved in front early in the second set, holding leads of 6-2 and 11-7 before the Cougars’ offense caught fire and tied the score at 16.

The set remained close the rest of the way, and Trinity actually took a 23-22 lead on back-to-back kills by Sydney Jaynes. The Lions then scored three quick points to close out the set.

Loogootee opened a 4-1 lead in the third set before the Cougars tied the score at 6 on a block by Jaynes and Hoffman.

Kamzi Gross then served the Cougars into an 11-6 lead, and her ace topped off the 5-0 run.

Momentum can shift quickly in volleyball, and the teams took turns scoring strings of points the rest of the way. First, it was Loogootee on a 7-0 run before the Cougars stormed back with a 5-0 run, and Trinity took advantage of a pair of attacking errors by Loogootee to lead 16-13.

Loogootee regained the upper hand at 17-16 before Trinity took its final lead at 18-17 on a pair of attacking errors by the Lions.

Loogootee finished strong with an 8-3 run to claim the title.

“It seemed like the whole night, we were playing from behind,” Wilder-Newland said. “There was always a point or two or we’d get tied up and then they’d get the lead. It was tough.”

Gross, Kleffman and Elly Carter had one ace each for Trinity. Jaynes led in kills with 13 with Tabeling and Hoffman each having five. Gross was the leader in digs with 18, Carter had nine and Ruth Bingham and Bailey Reynolds each had seven. Jaynes had two blocks, and Reynolds had 22 assists.

Trinity overcame a slow start against Rock Creek to advance from the first round.

In the first set, Rock Creek broke a 2-2 tie with four straight points and led the rest of the way. Trinity missed 13 serves against Rock Creek, and six of those misses came in the first set.

“We had some nerves at the beginning,” Wilder-Newland said. “We missed serves that we don’t normally miss and had some hitting errors. We were trying to be too perfect, putting the ball in a very tight spot. They were on fire. They came out really high on emotion.”

Trinity, sparked by Jaynes, came out strong at the start of the second and took control.

Bingham had three aces, and Kleffman and Carter two each. Jaynes led the team in kills with 16, while Hoffman had 10, Bingham seven and Reynolds five. Gross had 21 digs to 19 for Carter; Tabeling had four blocks and Reynolds three; and Reynolds had 35 assists.

“There’s not enough words to describe how proud I am of these guys,” Wilder-Newland said. “They just didn’t quit. They fought the whole way. They’re great people. They’re great students and they’re great players.”

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