Trinity primed for semistate matchup versus Bloomfield

Trinity Lutheran’s Stella Kleffman says she is really looking forward to Saturday’s 1 p.m. volleyball match against Bloomfield in the Columbus East Class 1A semistate.

Kleffman and Cougars head volleyball coach Faith Wilder-Newland know a lot about the Orange Pit. Kleffman played her freshman year at East, and Wilder-Newland coached the Olympians for 28 years.

“Since I’m so familiar with the gym and everything — I know it sounds weird — but when you’re going to the different gyms the air flow is different, so you’ve really got to adjust,” Kleffman said. “Since we had played at Loogootee we kind of knew how that was. I know I’m going to try to help the team out with what they need to know about the gym.

“Since I played there my freshman year it would be nice to go back in there and get a win in my old gym. I also think it’s nice to go and play at East again and have our fans be there, and I think that will be a great experience for us.”

Kleffman, who tops the Cougars with 55 ace serves, said her team needs to communicate throughout the match.

“I think if we can talk and have good communication, and teamwork like we did on Saturday against Loogootee and Springs Valley, I think that will be fine when we play Bloomfield,” she said. “Mostly, it’s that we can’t let them get on huge runs, and we just have to talk and let each other know what’s open. It’s a big game that we’ve got to be prepared for.

“Since we’re ranked number one, we know we’ve got a big target on our back and we know they are going to want to come out and want to beat us, so we’ve got to go in and prove to them why we are number one.”

The Cougars come in ranked No. 1 in Class 1A with a record of 30-4, while Bloomfield is unranked and has a record of 20-11.

“Its definite excitement going to the semistate,” Wilder-Newland said. “The whole atmosphere of playing for that opportunity to get to go to state is pretty awesome. From the last time we were there in 2019, people are just going to go and play all-out. There is nothing to hold back or reserve because it’s for the grandest prize.”

Trinity won a semistate in 2019 and takes a 21-match win streak to Columbus while Bloomfield has won 7 in a row.

Wilder-Newland said she feels like the freshmen in the regular rotation have really blended well with the seniors and junior Bailey Tabeling.

“I think especially Saturday, going through what we had to go through at Loogootee, I think that was a good preparation for this because the noise of the crowd, the height of the ceiling, the pressure of the situation are good tests that we obviously passed,” Wilder-Newland said. “I think we had some nerves, especially at the beginning. I think we got over those and moved forward with it.”

Wilder-Newland said Bloomfield is strong at the net.

“Bloomfield has some tall athletes,” she said. “They have a girl (senior Grace Lowry) we played against when she was a sophomore. She has experience from that level before.”

Lowry leads the Cardinals in kills with 523 and in aces with 62, and ranks third on the team in digs with 209.

“Their hitting and blocking is a strength,” Wilder-Newland said. “They have more blocking than we do. I think in most other areas, though, we actually may have a lead in kills. They have more total blocks than we do, but we have more setting assists.”

Keys to getting a victory?

“We need to play good defense,” Wilder-Newland said. “We need to be ready. Their setter dumps quite a bit, and we need to be ready for her to do that, and be up on our toes on defense to not get taken by surprise. Otherwise, I think we just need to play our normal game.”

The Cougars feel they have a complete team and aren’t just one-dimensional.

“We need to get contributions from all of our hitters,” Wilder-Newland said. “One of the advantages for our team, we have more balance. We don’t just rely on one person, one hitter, so it’s a little harder for a team to shut us down.”

While Lowry is the only Cardinal with more than 200 kills, Trinity has three with more than that in Tabeling (391), Ruthie Bingham (359) and Carson Bowling (283).

Indianapolis Brebeuf and Silver Creek will play in the Class 3A match immediately following Trinity and Bloomfield.

The winner of Trinity and Bloomfield will advance to state to take on the winner of Kouts and Lafayette Central, who are playing in the Frankfort semistate on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Trinity’s Ruthie Bingham attacks the ball against Bloomington South during the BCHS Invitational held at Brownstown August 28, 2021. The Cougars are competing in semistate this Saturday at 1 p.m.

Greg Jones | For The Tribune

Trinity’s Stella Kleffman attacks the ball against the Panthers during the BCHS Invitational held at Brownstown August 28, 2021. The Cougars are competing in semistate this Saturday at 1 p.m.

Greg Jones | For The Tribune