FORT WAYNE – A fantastic season unfortunately came to a conclusion Tuesday night for the Triton volleyball team. The ladies had a tall task to overcome as they traveled to the Summit City to take on Class 1A’s No. 11 ranked team, Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian on its home floor.
The regional championship match was full of heart and relentless passion from the Lady Trojans but ultimately it was the Braves that emerged successful with a 3-0 sweep of Triton.
Triton came into the regional match without mention in the state polls, no regional title in the past decade and certainly no players standing over six feet tall. Blackhawk, on the other hand, had all of those things.
The Braves won regional titles in both 2011 and 2013, have been ranked all season and are anchored by middle hitter Madison Byrd, a 6’2″ junior.
Despite the David versus Goliath matchup on paper, Triton was not phased and gave the mighty Braves everything they could handle. Tuesday, as a whole, just was not Triton’s night.
The Lady Trojans exchanged points with Blackhawk for much of the opening set. Anytime the Braves seemingly got a grip on the momentum, Triton was there to remind Blackhawk, and its impressive cheer block, that nothing was going to be easy Tuesday night. However, even Triton’s best effort was not enough to take the opening game as Blackhawk would win 25-20.
The effort from Triton did not disappear in the second game, but the effort from Blackhawk definitely seemed to improve. That was thanks, in part, to a stellar performance from Byrd. The junior served eight straight points to put her team up 12-2 and take Triton out the set early. Byrd finished the night with seven kills, three blocks, two aces and four digs.
“I don’t know what really happened in that second game,” said Triton head coach Samantha Willsey. “Once Blackhawk had that big run to start the game, we just couldn’t get ourselves back into rhythm.”
Blackhawk would establish its size advantage several times throughout the second set before ultimately winning 25-10.
Triton returned to form in the third set, once again exchanging points with the Braves. The downside for the Lady Trojans was that Blackhawk stayed true to form and did just enough to keep Triton out of it at the end, winning 25-21. The final point came after a ball hit off of a light and landed out of reach of any Triton player. A fitting end as the lights were turned out on the memorable season for Triton.
“I’m so proud of my girls,” Willsey remarked. “They played tough tonight. We didn’t make many mistakes, Blackhawk was just the better team tonight.
“This has been a great season. We only lose three starters and four seniors total, so we have a lot of pieces coming back next year. We know what we’re capable of doing after the run we had this year.”
Statistically Triton was led by Krystal Sellers who had nine assists and added two kills. Lauren Hostrawser led Triton with five kills and three blocks. Jaela Meister and Quinn Downing both led the team with five digs each.
Marta Bleed led Blackhawk with 16 kills. Brittany Greubel had a team-high 19 assists while Renee Pulver added another 13 assists.
Triton finishes the season 15-14. Blackhawk improves to 24-8 and will play either Washington Township or Pioneer in Saturday’s Semi-state.