By Nick Goralczyk
BOURBON – It feels good to be on top. At least that was the vibe felt in the Trojan Trench Thursday evening when the top-ranked Triton volleyball team hosted Culver. The Trojans celebrated senior night with a 3-0 sweep of the visiting Cavaliers to earn their sixth win of the season.
Triton (6-1, 2-0 Hoosier North Athletic Conference) used the momentum from the Senior Night ceremony to jump out of the gate for a 25-7 win in game one. It was clear from the opening set that the home team was by far the superior squad as Blue Slam tallied six aces in the frame, led by three from Jaela Faulkner. The Trojans finished the night with 10 aces as a team. The first game was also where Blue Slam picked up its highest number of blocks, with three of the team’s five coming in that first set.
As the night went on Culver would improve and but Triton remained the dominant team on the court, winning game two 25-13 and closing out the sweep with a 25-14 win in game three. Though the Trojans were not pushed much, head coach Derek Eveland was thrilled to get the sweep and play a large portion of his roster.
“This is the fourth match so far, out of eight, that I’ve been able to play 15 players. So, we’re kind of getting used to it,” Eveland explained. “It makes it easy when the starters play the way they’re supposed to, it gives me a lot of chances to get players in.”
Triton recognized its eight seniors before Thursday’s match. While there was plenty of impact from the senior class in the sweep of Culver, perhaps nobody was as impactful as Emma Hepler.
“She was great, as usual,” remarked Eveland. “We call her the team mom, shes always the one chattering, getting the girls going. She had a great night tonight. She had maybe two bad plays and that’s just because she was trying to go too quick, other than that she just set everybody up and her serving was outstanding.”
Hepler led the team with 19 assists on the evening. The distribution for stats was pretty spread around outside of the assist tally from Hepler. Kinsey Atkins led the way in digs with three, Abbey Viers racked up nine kills to lead all players while Lexia Hostrawser was not far behind with eight of her own. Five players tied with one block each for the Trojans.
While the seniors stole the show both before and after the game, Blue Slam was buzzing with other big news this week. The Trojans debuted at No. 1 in the Indiana Prep Volleyball/Indiana High School Volleyball Coaches Association poll for Class 1-A. Maybe Eveland has been paying attention this election season, because he was prepared to talk polls Thursday night.
“Crazy, crazy,” the coach said with a laugh when asked about his team’s top ranking. “I did tell the girls after the first week that we would be ranked pretty soon. Then, sure enough, they came out with the rankings and we’re number one. They’re a bit overhyped on that. We went from two votes, honorable mention, to number one. So, you can’t put too much stock into it.
“I did tell the girls the good thing about it is that we do have a target on us now. So it’s going to push us because everybody is going to be out for us now. It’s kind of crazy. We’ll see how it goes.”
Behind Triton in this week’s 1-A poll were, respectively, Blue River Valley, Springs Valley, South Newton and Loogootee. The Trojans host Culver Military Saturday at 10 a.m.