By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer
Defensive specialist Abby Cunningham has been a force for Lincoln Christian volleyball since starting her freshman year. Her contributions helped her team win a third straight state championship back in October in Moore.
Lincoln Christian won the title at the Class 4A level for the second straight year. Its 2018 championship was in Class 3A.
The Lady Bulldogs won the 2020 title by sweeping Christian Heritage in three sets. “It was really special,” Cunningham said. “It was awesome because we had so many seniors and the way we won, like no one can look back on that game and feel like they didn’t do their all to get their best. I feel like we all played so clean and cohesive that it was just a great way for all seven of us to go out.”
Cunningham, who was named Pinnacle All-Conference and All-State this season, is also committed to play collegiately at Division-II Seattle Pacific, said her team never saw victory clinched until the match was completely done.
“We never realized until the last point, because for the past two years there were such crazy games,” Cunningham said. “We would be up, then all of a sudden we would be down and we thought we had it in the bag. All of us were in the mindset that it’s not over until it’s over. I think it was really when that last ball dropped, it was like ‘oh my gosh, we just did this again.’”
Other senior standouts who graduate for Lincoln Christian are outside hitters Micah Clayton and Hope Keitner. Both also made Pinnacle All-Conference. Keitner was also a captain who made All-State. Clayton is committed to Southwest Baptist to play basketball.
The rest of the seniors are middle hitter Bayleigh Smith, along with defensive specialists Raena Maerick, Eva Trompler and Naya Ross.
The most challenging aspect going into the final, Cunningham said, was knowing that this would be the last time this senior class would be playing together.
“That was the hardest part, rather than the game itself was the mental aspect,” she said. “It was like this is the last time we’re going to do this.”
Most challenging moment for Lincoln Christian this season came in late September, when the Lady Bulldogs got a big win against Jenks, then followed up with a loss to NOAH.
“Because we were so overwhelmed by the fact that we beat that team and it was such a hard game, that after that we got comfortable a little bit, it was a wakeup call,” Cunningham said. “We realized that just because we beat (Jenks) that we can’t get comfortable and settle in. So at mid-season, we hit a rough patch of eye-opening games where we really need to keep going, keep pushing.”
They did and it paid off.
Private School Quick Hits
Bishop Kelley and Victory Christian also won state titles in their respective classes: Bishop Kelley beat Mustang, 3-2 (25-21, 25-16, 18-25, 25-27, 15-13 in the Class 6A championship final. It was Kelley’s second in three years and 19th since 1989.
Victory Christian won a fourth consecutive title by taking the Class 5A championship by sweeping Oklahoma City Mt. St. Mary’s in three sets (25-18, 27-25, 25-17). It’s titles in 2017 and 2019 also came in 5A, while its 2018 title came in Class 4A.
Bishop Kelley won the Class 5A state championship for a fourth straight year back on Nov. 4 in Edmond with 70 points. Noble was runner-up with 86 points. Highest finisher was senior Liz Campbell, who took fifth with a time of 19:45.65. Behind her was junior Ella Eureste (sixth, 19:50.51), who was the individual state champion in 2018 and 2019.
Regent Prep won its fourth state championship in its athletic history as it captured both the team and individual championships in Class 3A girls’ cross country back on Nov. 4 in Edmond. Senior Natalie Cleveland won the meet with a time of 12:08.36. Freshman Micah Dickens also contributed with a runner-up finish with a time of 12:12.21. The Lady Rams won the team championship with 104 points. Cascia Hall was second with 109 points. Regent’s other state titles came in volleyball (2014) and boys’ golf (2018, 2019).