KNOX | In the past two state tournaments, Andrean didn’t play against a team as potent as New Prairie until it reached the semistate.
That all changed Saturday as the two-time defending champion 59ers (26-9) were faced with trying to upset Class 3A No. 3 New Prairie in the Knox Sectional championship.
New Prairie (33-2) eventually earned its lofty ranking, rallying from a 2-0 deficit in sets to win its first title since in 11 years, 24-26, 18-25, 25-20, 25-16, 15-8.
The Niners, who were looking for their fifth sectional crown in seven seasons, rallied from a 23-19 deficit in the first set and stunned the Cougars as Marija Nicksic and Meranda Garcia each had two key kills in the run.
Andrean did likewise in the second set, rallying from an early 10-6 deficit to pull away for the victory. Nicksic and Mary Thomas had crucial kills down the stretch.
The Niners couldn’t carry that momentum over in the third set, as the Cougars built an 18-10 advantage and held on for a 25-20 win. New Prairie began to exert its will and won the fourth set in convincing fashion. The Niners never got closer than 21-15 late in the match.
The Cougars jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the decisive fifth set and never looked back.
New Prairie advances to the regional to be played at the winner of Griffith and Clark at the Clark Sectional.
The loss ends the stellar careers of Andrean seniors Nicksic Marisa Beemsterboer Kate Meccia and Kellie Wojciecowski and Lauren Stazinski.
In the semifinal rounds, Andrean advanced with a 25-14, 25-21 21-25, 25-16 win over Knox after New Prairie eliminated Hanover Central 25-10, 25-16, 25-20. Hanover finished 20-5.