MUNCIE — Hauser was one point from taking the first set in Saturday’s Class A Volleyball State Finals.
But the second-ranked Jets couldn’t hang on, and top-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic took that set. The Knights then won two more to claim a 26-24, 25-18, 25-15 victory.
“I think if we could have would have just got that first set, it would have helped us carry some momentum into the next two,” senior setter Alana Owen said. “We may have dropped our energy.”
Lafayette Catholic (30-5) jumped out to leads of 15-10 and 17-5 in the first set. The Knights still led 21-18 before Hauser (35-5) got a sideout and two more points with Sydney Schoen at the service line to tie it.
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After Lafayette Catholic took a 22-21 lead, Hauser got a sideout and two more points on Kylie Lock serves for a 24-23 lead. But a missed serve on set point lead to three straight points from the Knights.
“I think definitely winning that first set would have given our team a lot more confidence going into the second game,” said Schoen, who won the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award. “We did really well the first game, but the next two games, we just weren’t playing together as much as we should have been.”
The Jets never led in the second set. Lafayette Catholic jumped out to leads of 5-0 and 15-5. Hauser came back to within 20-15 behind the serving of Schoen and Lock, but couldn’t come any closer.
In the third set, the Jets took a 7-6 lead on an ace by Madie Sherman.
“We just had to get our passes up, and we needed to get it all together,” Sherman said. “We had to talk a little more and stay out behind the block.”
That would be the last lead for Hauser. The Knights scored four consecutive points to take control.
The Jets were within 20-15, but Lafayette Catholic scored the final five points to take the match.
“I thought we had a couple untimely errors, and we let that (first set) slip, and I really think that was pivotal,” Hauser coach Jeff Case said. “Our ball control kind of went away, and I think it shook our confidence. I think if we could have got that first set, it would have helped us out confidence-wise, so I think that was a big turning point in the game.”
Lafayette Catholic coach Brad McCarter agreed.
“It was a huge moment,” McCarter said. “That’s the way we train the way we do in the gym — put a lot of pressure on these guys day in and day out so when it’s that type of moment, we try to be calm and feel comfortable with handling everything.”
The state title was the second for the Knights, who also won the Class A championship in 2010.
Gretchen Kuckkan led Lafayette Catholic with 21 kills and three aces. The Knights hit .201 as a team to just .080 for the Jets.
“Central Catholic did a lot of things to put stress on us,” Case said. “You have to give them a lot of credit because a lot of our problems were because of them putting stress on us.”
Sherman led the Jets with 10 kills and four blocks. Owen recorded 22 assists, Sarah Tedder had 17 digs and Schoen, Owen and Sherman all served one ace.
Also for Hauser, which was making its first state finals appearance, Hannah Johnson pounded five kills and Tedder added four kills. Lock notched 13 digs, Sherman tallied two assists and Schoen had a block and 11 digs.
“We didn’t come out our best,” Schoen said. “We knew that we had to play really well, but unfortunately came up a little bit short. The other team played really well, and we just weren’t able to adjust.”