Christian Academy too much for Trinity

NEW ALBANY — The volleyball juggernaut that is Class A No. 1 Christian Academy of Indiana refused to be halted on its home floor.

CAI (29-6), the reigning state champions, won its fourth consecutive regional title by defeating Trinity Lutheran 25-22, 25-10, 25-17 on Tuesday.

In the opening set, the Cougars (16-20) came from behind to tie the game at 20-20.

Trinity took the early lead at 5-2 behind blocks by Sydney Stahl, Abby Hackman and a kill from Chloe Criswell. After tying it at 8-8, CAI went up 13-10. The Warriors then went on to win the next five points behind serves from Sierra Rayzor.

A kill by Hackman sparked the come-from-behind seven-point scoring string, with Whitney Rogers taking over the serving duties to knot the set.

Hailley Peters’ kill put the Cougars back up at 21-20, but a serving error by the Warriors would be Trinity’s final point of the set.

“We had some great serves,” Cougars coach Chelsea Stroub said of the first set. “We had momentum and kept pounding the ball. We were making them make errors. We came into it that (Christian Academy) wasn’t perfect. We knew they could make flaws just like us, and we wanted to point out their little weaknesses.

“Overall, we just wanted to play our game and keep our pace. We wanted to keep our energy up, and we did that here and there. It was just a rollercoaster.”

In the first set, the teams were tied six times. The second set was tied five times before Christian Academy claimed nine straight points on serves from Mackenzie Haworth. The Warriors built a 16-point lead before a kill from Lexi Lester sealed the set at 25-10.

Christian Academy went on a 13-1 run behind strong serving from Lexi Lester to ignite the Warriors in the third set.

“They have a couple of servers who rocked us,” Stroub said. “We couldn’t do anything — even get the ball back over the net. Every time, they would hit the 10-foot line, and it killed us. We were down, and they kept beating us.”

Hackman slammed a kill to end the streak, and Lexi Schneider added another to make the deficit 16-14. Trinity saved five match points, highlighted by an athletic split by Whitney Rogers that resulted in a dig, before falling  25-17.

Hackman led the Cougars with five kills, while Schneider and Peters each had three. Courtney Barker and Ashley Goecker both tallied an ace.

Peters, Rogers and Schneider all graduate from the Cougars’ program.

“This group has meant a lot. They’ve got the biggest hearts,” Stroub said of the seniors. “They’re always the first ones on the court and last ones off. They give 110 percent everywhere they go. They have great attitudes and are very coachable.”

Christian Academy will play in the Loogootee Semistate on Saturday. Under the IHSAA tournament success factor, the Cougars will move up to Class 2A next season if they make it to the state championship match.