After beating Bloomington Lighthouse twice this season, Columbus Christian coach Bruce Giggy knew the Lions would be out for revenge in Tuesday night’s ICSAA South Regional championship.
Lighthouse came out strong, winning the first set and pushing the Crusaders to the brink in the second. But Columbus Christian rebounded for a 23-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-15 victory and a berth in Saturday’s state tournament.
“We knew that Bloomington was going to come out and hit us hard right in the beginning, and sure enough, they did,” Giggy said. “They answered the call. They were coming in with a vengeance. It took us a little bit to get over those first-game jitters.”
The Crusaders (18-3) will play the winner from Tuesday night’s game between Heritage Christian (Dyer) and LaPorte LaLumiere at noon Saturday at Faith Christian in Lafayette. The state title game will be at 4 p.m.
Tuesday’s first set featured eight lead changes. Columbus Christian led 22-20 before the Lions pulled out the set to take a 1-0 lead.
The Crusaders again led 22-20 in the second set, only to see Lighthouse take a 23-22 advantage. But Columbus Christian came back with three consecutive points, the last on a tip kill by Madison Henderson.
“In the first set, I felt really confident that we were going to win,” middle hitter Mayah Schnundelmeier said. “After we lost the first one, I had a little bit of doubt, but then I came into the second one trusting God with the entire game, and he took us through it. We definitely talked to each other more, we went up aggressively, and we didn’t doubt each other or ourselves.”
In the third set, the Lions jumped out to a 13-8 lead and led 16-15 before the Crusaders rallied to take a 2-1 lead.
Columbus Christian scored the first three points of the fourth set and never relinquished the lead. The Crusaders were up 17-15 when they got a side out, and Savannah Herron served the final seven points to close out the match.
“At the beginning, I was getting down on myself, but I knew that we needed that win to bring us back up,” Savannah Herron said. “Serving the last point was a lot of anxiety and pressure, but I kept relying on God to get me through this.”
Savannah Herron and Henderson each pounded 10 kills, Sabrina Herron recorded 31 assists, Schundelmeier had four blocks, Hannah Lormior notched 19 digs and Savannah Spurgeon served four aces to lead Columbus Christian.
Hannah Lormior also tallied nine kills. Spurgeon had six assists, Hannah Stair recorded 16 digs and Savannah Herron served three aces.
The regional title is the first for the Crusaders since 2004.
“It was very thrilling,” Savannah Herron said. “It’s never really happened to me before, so when it happened, I was overcome with joy.”