Rayzor, Stumler help lift Christian Academy to new heights

Rayzor, Stumler help lift Christian Academy to new heights

Girls Volleyball

Rayzor, Stumler help lift Christian Academy to new heights

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Christian Academy of Indiana's Sierra Rayzor eyes a kill in a regional final win over Trinity Lutheran.

Christian Academy of Indiana’s Sierra Rayzor eyes a kill in a regional final win over Trinity Lutheran.

Christian Academy of Indiana – with just over 200 students enrolled – is one of the smallest high schools in the state, but the Warriors are big on talent.

The volleyball program will attempt to defend its Class 1-A state title on Saturday in its third consecutive championship appearance – a run made possible by a core of Division I commits, which is uncharacteristic for a school of its size, according to Warriors coach Walter Pauly.

CAI’s two key players are cousins Sierra Rayzor, a 6-foot-1 senior who commands the middle of the net for the Warriors, and Alli Stumler, a 6-foot junior All-American at outside hitter. Stumler is committed to Kentucky, while Rayzor plans to attend Samford.

“We’re just incredibly blessed to have the kids that we have here,” Pauly said. “To be such a small school but have Division I athletes, it’s kind of not heard of very often. So we’re just blessed to have some quality kids at the right time.”

Rayzor leads the team with 400 kills on the year. Her hitting percentage (.438) ranks 13th in the state behind Stumler’s fourth-best mark of .492.

The talent doesn’t stop there. MacKenzie Haworth, a senior, ranks second in the state with 145 total aces. Haworth leads the state in aces per set (1.5) among players that have logged time in at least 100 sets this season.

Alli Stumler, a junior All-American for Christian Academy of Indiana, reaches for the ball against Trinity Lutheran on Oct. 25, 2016.

Alli Stumler, a junior All-American for Christian Academy of Indiana, reaches for the ball against Trinity Lutheran on Oct. 25, 2016.

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Support for the star-studded Warriors, according to Pauly, has never wavered. Despite a lower-than-average enrollment figure, CAI students are mainstays at every home game, and the school-based “community” is right there with them.

“We are, what we would consider, a community of students and families, for sure,” Pauly said, “They support one another. All of our sports, if they’re able to, get out and support each other across the board.”

Coming off the school’s first-ever state championship, No. 1 CAI will look to make it two in a row against No. 7 Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian. It’s the first title game appearance for the Braves.

The Warriors (31-6), meanwhile, have won 12 straight postseason matches entering Saturday’s matchup and will jump to Class 2-A next season as a result.

By way of the IHSAA’s Tournament Success Factor, sectional, regional, semi-state and state championships are assigned point values. A school must move up a classification if it exceeds six points. State championship and semi-state titles account for four and three points, respectively, thus sealing the Warriors’ ascent.

Despite graduating key players such as Rayzor and Haworth, Pauly said CAI is primed for its next step, aided by the return of Stumler and younger players gaining postseason experience this season.

“We’re going to be fine,” he said. “We do graduate four seniors. … We’ve got kids, in my opinion, who are going to step in and fill those roles.”

The team’s advancement, Pauly said, is descriptive of the school’s growth as a whole. CAI might be small, but the Warriors’ ambition is anything but.

“I look at the growth of this school. … Sometimes winning programs help sell.” he said, “Whether it’s the school or the program itself. Hopefully there’s going to be some kind of trickle-down effect there by having quality programs that will help spur the growth of this school.

“I’m really proud of what this school’s doing.”

Class 1A State Championship

Matchup: Christian Academy of Indiana (31-6) vs. Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian (30-5)

When: Saturday, 11 a.m.

Where: Worthern Arena, Ball State University

TV: Fox Sports Indiana

Stream: IHSAATV.org

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