Cougars claim sectional title, advance to regional


Trinity Lutheran volleyball coach Faith Wilder-Newland believes all sectional titles are special, and that was no different Saturday night.

“It’s always nice to win a sectional title,” she said after her team defeated Rising Sun 25-10, 25-11, 25-15 in the Bollinger Athletic Complex on Saturday night. “The big thing is the quality of the kids. Every year, we just have a mix of seniors, and after last year, I think a lot of people thought that we would be down.”

Trinity is ranked No. 1 in Class A and has won 19 straight matches while putting together a 28-4 season. This is the Cougars’ eighth straight sectional title.

“The three seniors really worked hard to help the freshmen, and the underclassmen feel valued and respected, and it just really helps bring this team together,” she said. “It’s always exciting because it’s just a new mix, so I’m really happy for the kids.”

The Cougars dominated the match from the opening serve.

Trinity opened the first set with an 8-0 run with Kamzi Gross leading the way with three straight aces, giving her team a 5-0 lead before her kill extended the lead to 7-0 and Bailey Tabeling followed with another kill.

The Shiners were able to score back-to-back points only once in the first set for a 12-4 score. A kill by Ruthie Bingham gave the momentum right back to the Cougars, and Trinity pulled away to lead 19-7 and used Carson Bowling’s kill for set point.

The Shiners held a 2-1 lead in the second set and trailed 5-3 before the Cougars went on a 7-0 run to lead 12-3, then extended its margins to 16-5 and 21-6 and a kill by Ali Blomenberg to wrap up the second set.

Rising Sun stayed close early in the third set at 8-8 before Stella Kleffman and Tabeling had back-to-back kills, and the Cougars were in front to stay.

Back-to-back kills by Bingham boosted Trinity’s lead to 14-9, kills by Bowling gave the Cougars leads of 16-10 and 19-12 and Morgan Brewer had a kill for match point, and Trinity began to celebrate.

Leading attackers were Bowling with 16-18-14, Tabeling 15-16-13 and Bingham with 19-20-11.

Gross was 15-16-5, Addison Darlage was 12-13-3 and Kleffman was 8-9-1 in serves.

Laura Roeder had seven digs with Gross and Tabeling each having four. Darlage had 20 assists.

Wilder-Newland said teamwork has been important to the season.

“It takes a lot of teamwork, especially since we’re not very tall,” she said. “We have to play really good defense, hit smart and serve-receive well. Basically, we have to do everything well.”

Gross has been the Cougars’ libero for four seasons and said winning a sectional her senior year is incredible.

“It’s like a feeling I’ve never felt before. I love this game, and I love to win,” she said.

She credits talking on the court to the Cougars’ success.

“Our team communication is great,” Gross said. “We all play together well. It’s going to take everything from us (to beat Loogootee). We’ve been waiting for this since we played them during the season. We’re ready for them.”

Trinity advanced to the finals by defeating Oldenburg Academy 25-7, 25-10, 25-8 in the semifinals, while Rising Run eliminated West Washington.

Kleffman was 17-17-3, Gross was 13-14-3 and Bingham was 11-12-1 in serves.

Tabeling was the leader in attacks with 22-26-12, Bingham had 16-17-11 and Bowling was 12-14-7.

Gross had 20 digs, and Darlage had 35 assists.

Springs Valley will play Lanesville in the opening match at Loogootee, and Trinity will face Loogootee in the second match Saturday around noon.

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