Bull Dogs avenge loss, edge Cougars to win 7th straight regional

BLOOMINGTON — After falling to Bloomington North during the regular season, Columbus North girls tennis coach Kendal Hammel tweaked his lineup in anticipation for Wednesday night’s regional final rematch with the Cougars, and it paid off.

The No. 12-ranked Bull Dogs picked up the extra point necessary to prevail 3-2 to capture the win over the No. 16 Cougars and earn their seventh consecutive regional title. Columbus North moves on to face No. 3 Jasper in the Jasper Semistate on Saturday.

The victory avenges a 3-2 loss Columbus North (19-4) had earlier in the season with Bloomington North (16-2) that cost it the Conference Indiana title.

“We knew it was going to be a hard match for us coming in. I think that we all delivered, so it was good,” Columbus North junior Kathryn Wilson said.

The match that the Bull Dogs flipped in their favor was at No. 2 doubles, where Siri Poludasu and Nino Akhalaya defeated Lucy Smith and Maddie Brumet 6-2, 6-2.

In Columbus North’s other two wins, Wilson downed Alex Shirley at No. 1 singles and Aya Saad blanked Brooke Bailey at No. 2 singles, both by 6-0, 6-0 scores.

“(Bloomington North’s) style did not change from what they did the last time. We’ve been talking about it and knowing what to do in that situation,” Hammel said. “They did a really good job preparing for the type of game they were going to come up against today. I was proud of them to be able to do it in that situation.”

At No. 1 doubles, Lucy Bergman and Grace Conner fell to Ellie Bruce and Kiera Murphy 6-2, 6-0. At No. 3 singles, Annabelle Sun lost to Bella Winkler 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.

“It was a very tough loss for (Sun). I really didn’t know where that third spot was going to come from. I really thought the 3 singles spot would be the one that we could get. It didn’t happen that way, (Winkler) was just a battler,” Hammel said. “Taking nothing away from Annabelle, she hit a lot of balls. She fought back after losing the first set. I know she’s disappointed, but I’m glad for what she did and hanging in there and working at it over and over.”

It’ll likely be the same drill again when they face Jasper on Saturday. Columbus North lost 3-2 in an earlier-season matchup.

“It’s going to be just like today’s match,” Hammel said. “We’re going to have to figure out 3 singles and the two doubles where we’re going to get that one spot. Even at 1 singles, it was a battle the last time we played. I still feel like going in, we’re looking at 1 and 2 singles and then where to come up with that third spot. (Jasper) is a very talented, senior-run team. No doubt about that.”