GRIFFITH | Six-time state champion coach Troy Campbell was impressed by Griffith’s attacking skills as his two-loss New Prairie team faced the host Panthers in Tuesday night’s Class 3A regional.
Fortunately for Campbell’s team, the Panthers only had a few opportunities to display their heavy hitting.
The key to good hitting is strong initial passing, and New Prairie’s befuddling serves begat more than 20 aces as the Cougars beat Griffith 25-16, 25-9, 25-12.
“We came in with nothing to lose,” Griffith senior spiker Lisette Roldan said. “We’ve never won a regional, and we came out (Tuesday) to leave it all on the floor.”
Roldan was chief among five seniors (in addition to Megan Garcia, Victoria Mares, Jacy Vukvich and Jenna Derolf) who played their final volleyball matches in Griffith uniforms. However, Roldan recently verbally committed to Division II Concord University in West Virginia to prolong her volleyball-playing days.
“It’s good because now I don’t have to play club (volleyball) and I can enjoy my senior year,” said Roldan, who will receive a partial athletic scholarship to play for the Mountain Lions.
Griffith (14-14) won its third consecutive sectional and sixth overall, but the passing issues ended coach Kristi Hoese’s first season despite her numerous attempts to stop New Prairie’s momentum with timeouts and substitutions.
“They’re a great team, and I can’t say much more about that,” Hoese said. “They served us off the court. If we can’t pass, we can’t run any type of offense.”
Griffith’s only lead of the entire night was a 1-0 advantage starting the second game. New Prairie’s drive to Griffith lasted longer than the 59-minute match.
New Prairie (34-2) advances to Saturday’s Plymouth Semistate semifinals.
New Prairie fans chanted “Whose house? Our house!” before the first and third games with nary a Griffith rebuttal.
After winning six consecutive state championships during his tenure at Marquette Catholic, Campbell is in his second season at New Prairie and believes his No. 3 Cougars have the makings of a champion.
“There is no doubt,” he said. “We’ve got all of the recipe and all of the ingredients. Last Saturday, we put it together against Andrean, and that was only the second time in these girls’ careers they’ve been in a fifth game.”
New Prairie, which came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Andrean at the sectional, won its first regional since 1985 behind seven kills and four blocks by Jessica Ferrell. The Cougars also had five kills, two blocks and 15 assists from Ali Ritchie, five kills and four aces by Janelle Rehlander and four aces and five digs from Catherine Ament.