DUBOIS — Northeast Dubois had a great opportunity Tuesday evening, but Loogootee slipped through their fingertips.
The Loogootee volleyball team (32-4) defeated Northeast Dubois (23-10) in three straight sets, 25-23, 25-14, 25-5 for the program’s seventh regional championship.
The Jeeps came out fast in front of a raucous home crowd that made life difficult for the Lions in the first set. The Jeeps student section dressed in all white made the environment very loud and at times, and the players on both teams had trouble hearing their own teammates communicate.
“It’s very loud in here,” said Loogootee head coach Lacey Wade. “Where we play we’re not used to that with the crowd right on top of us. You can normally hear your teammates when they’re talking to you. That was definitely a big adjustment, I’d say for both teams here. Once they figured out they had to play on their own instinct, I thought they played well.”
Northeast Dubois scored the first four points, and held a 16-12 lead halfway through the first set. The Jeeps had all the momentum and Wade sensed that as she took a timeout to settle down her team. A different Lions squad came out on the floor after the timeout. They scored 13 of the next 20 points on their way to a decisive two-point first set victory.
“I just told them, you know guys we’ve let them (Northeast Dubois) play long enough,” Wade said. “It’s time for us to step in and play our game and they did.”
That message resonated in the play of the Lions the remainder of the night. In the second set, the Lions came out with the intensity that they showed following Wade’s pep talk. Loogootee jumped out to a 7-3 lead before the Jeeps scored their fourth point of the set. The Lions followed that by scoring 11 straight points to stretch the lead to 18-4, the lead would get as high as 21-6. The Jeeps fought back, but the lead was too large as they fell 25-14.
With their backs against the wall in the third set, the Jeeps had no answer for the Lions’ offensive attack as Loogootee cruised to a 20-point third set clinching victory.
“This is a team, if they find their confidence they’re going to play well,” Wade said. “The more they play the more confident they get in their swings, and they’re going to put the ball down.”
The Lions will take on the winner of the Clay City/Indiana Deaf regional Saturday at Loogootee. If they were to get past the first match at semi-state, the Lions would see some schools they are familiar with.
“We have played Trinity Lutheran, if we make it out of the first match they’ll be in the final,” Wade said. “And Indy Lutheran, they have played some area teams around here. But, that’s really all we know right now.”