HAMMOND | Whether they’re home-schooled or on-campus students, the Calumet Christian volleyball players are reserved, respectful and relentless.
This non-IHSAA juggernaut has won the Indiana Christian State Tournament and the National Association of Christian Athletes (NACA) national championship three years in a row, but the collective ego easily made it through the doors to Skurka-Mysliwy Fieldhouse for Monday’s match with IHSAA crossover foe Bishop Noll.
“Going in we knew it was a tough school, but we knew our team could really, really pull together in really, really tough times,” Calumet Christian senior middle hitter Faith Lorenz said. “God really gives us whatever we need. A lot of times we’ve come from down really big and pulled together and done really good stuff.”
The Patriots faced numerous multi-point deficits in every game, but Calumet Christian was able to end Times No. 10 Bishop Noll’s nine-match winning streak with a 25-22, 18-25, 25-23, 25-21 win Monday night.
“We try not to be intimidated,” Lansing resident Lorenz said. “We always go in with a mentality that we are going to do whatever we can.”
With Lorenz, a 6-footer playing despite a cold and recurring cough, made Noll’s cadre of skilled hitters work for their kills with three blocks and nine kills of her own, and teammate Ally Rohn, a Cedar Lake resident and a club volleyball teammate of some of Noll’s players, had 20 kills to lead the Patriots (29-3). Calumet Christian’s only losses this season are to Lake Central, Andrean and Kankakee Valley.
“I’m always amazed we beat teams like this because they have a lot more firepower than us,” Calumet Christian coach Melinda Carr said. “I think we tend to play a little smarter game than some of the powerhouses.”
Defense and an ability to read errant serves were huge for the Patriots, who also got 19 digs from Kaylie Obinger.
The Patriots have been without dominant middle hitter Olivia Johnston for more than a month, as she is out for the year with a torn ACL and meniscus in her right knee.
Noll (17-5) led the first game 11-4 and 14-9 before the Patriots tied it at 16. After five more ties the Patriots prevailed.
Noll dominated the second game after encountering a 3-0 deficit. The Warriors looked their usual selves as Carly Cappello (24 kills, 18 digs, two aces), Asya Hobbs (14 kills, 13 digs, seven blocks, four aces) and Carissa Jones (11 kills, 17 digs) were flying around creating havoc.
Noll led the third game 19-18 before a wild finish that included several clutch blocks by Lorenz and partners, and Bishop Noll had double-digit unforced errors, particularly in the hitting department, as Calumet Christian held onto a 20-14 lead and won the final set, the match point coming on a combined block by Lorenz and Grace Eizenga.
“We have a lot of people on our bench to push us,” Lorenz said. “Coach Carr can encourage you just with a look.”
Noll was out of system for the majority of the match and had to rely on broken plays and the hard spikes of Cappello/Hobbs/Jones for relief.
“We always consider Calumet Christian a good opponent for us to learn from,” Noll coach Dave Rodriguez said. “They have good energy, they pick up a lot of balls, and they play good defense. It’s hard to put it down on them.”