FT. MADISON — The New London volleyball season came to an end on Tuesday night in the Class 1A regional final round. The seventh-ranked Tigers were done in by their nemesis, No. 8 Holy Trinity in four sets, falling 23-25, 25-14, 25-20, 25-21.
Things looked promising at the get-go for New London. The Tigers had a pep in their step early in the first set, jumping out to a 9-4 lead. Holy Trinity, however, came back with six of their own to take a 10-9 advantage, and the battle was on.
Game one was tied 15-15, 16-16, 18-18, 22-22 and 23-23, a vintage New London-Holy Trinity matchup. When winning time came, it was senior Alexa Wenger who stepped up, serving the final two Tiger points to pull out a first-set victory. Sofie Reighard had four kills in the opening set and the Tigers held a 1-0 advantage.
In the second set, the Holy Trinity storm started to brew. HTC scored seven of the first eight points to put New London in a deep hole early, and in the blink of an eye, New London’s momentum had vanished.
The Crusaders would close out game two 25-14 and then jump out to an early 5-2 lead in the third set. New London scored six in a row to grab an 8-5 lead, but HTC bounced right back with five of their own to retake the lead 10-8, and New London didn’t lead again in the third set.
The Tigers did come back to tie the game on two separate occasions, and were down just two points, at 21-19. Holy Trinity won four of the last four points, however, and it was 2-1 Crusaders.
New London didn’t go down easily in the fourth. After falling behind 4-2, the Tigers rallied to take back the lead, building it as high as four points, at 14-10. In the first half of the fourth set, senior Addie Pry took over, scoring four kills and one ace before either team hit 15.
The Crusaders came back with four-straight of their own to tie the game at 14-14. Keaura Williams had a big kill to stop the HTC run and spark a 3-0 Tiger run that had New London leading 19-16.
With just six points to go to send it to a fifth set, however, HTC caught fire. The Crusaders, led by junior star Claire Pothitakis, scored five points in a row to grab a 21-19 lead, pinning the Tigers’ backs against the ball.
Wenger cut the lead down to one point with a kill, slicing the lead to 21-20, but HTC scored four of the last five points of the game to end New London’s season in yet another regional final.
“We never gave up, and we battled,” Tiger head coach Maureen Heath said. “There were times we had trouble executing the game plan, but their serving was very tough. They had a game plan for offense and they worked it very well. They kind of monopolized our weak areas.”
New London finished the season 29-9 overall and 6-2 in conference play. After making the state tournament in 2014, the Tigers have been knocked out of the regional finals three times and the regional semifinals twice. HTC has been the culprit for four of the last five years.