HOPE

With Hauser breezing by the first set, it looked like it was going to be an easy rout in Tuesday night’s regional volleyball contest.

Greenwood Christian Academy didn’t go down without a fight, though.

The Class A No. 4 Jets faced their toughest test this season and withstood the pressure that the Cougars gave them to win in four sets, 25-14, 24-26, 25-19, 25-18.

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The Jets now move on to face Tindley at the Loogootee Semistate Saturday. GCA finishes the season 27-11.

With the Cougars qualifying for a regional berth for the first time in the program’s history, Greenwood Christian coach Kayla Back came away happy despite the defeat.

“It was a very good season,” Back said. “We had a bit of a slump in the middle we had to get over, and it only made us better at the end. We never quit, and these girls kept working hard and always wanted to be better.”

In the second set, the Jets had the 18-9 lead but the Cougars stormed back by going on a 9-1 run to cut that deficit to 19-18. The Cougars then tied the score 23-23 and scored three of the final four points to claim the set.

“They have risen to the occasion and know they can compete with anybody,” Back said. “Hauser is a very good team and are fundamentally sound. We have a lot of juniors and one senior, and to come in their house and our first regional ever, we were rattled a little bit.

“We settled in and came back in the second set. Hauser is really good, and I thought we played pretty well considering everything.”

The third set was just as close. The Jets built a 15-7 lead before the Cougars came back again.

This time, though, the Jets slammed the door and were able to hold on to the set.

“We had a hard time putting the ball away, and they kept hitting it back over,” Hauser coach Jeff Case said. “We played a little sloppy when we had the lead and lost focus. Give to (Greenwood Christian Academy) — they played tough defense.

“I knew it was going to be a tough match, and we were going to have our ups and downs. We stayed calm and staying with the process of what we were doing.”

Hauser did not give Greenwood Christian Academy any hope in the fourth set. Up just 14-13, the Jets put together seven straight service points to seal the deal.

The Cougars hope to make another run next season. They have a lot of young players and only lose one senior, Katherine Cruse.

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James Pence is a sports correspondent for The Republic.