COVINGTON, Ind. — Sometimes the other team is simply a little better. That was the case according to Covington volleyball coach Jen Sutherlin when her team fell to Lafayette Central Catholic 3-0 in the sectional 47 championship match.
“We played about as well as we could,” said Sutherlin, “But they were just the better team.”
Some of the teams that face the Knights are nervous or fearful in the face of the height and experience of their opponents, but the Trojans were not that way according to Sutherlin.
“We didn’t come out nervous — we were ready to play,” she said. “I wish we’d only played them to fifteen or maybe twelve because we played them even to that point each time. Then they’d make a run.”
The first game went as she described, still being as close as four points at 16-12, but then Central Catholic made their run and opened an eight-point lead en route to a 25-16 win.
“We practiced against what they did against the other teams and we tried to serve aggressively,” Sutherlin explained. “We even changed our defense a couple of times and it worked, but when they’d make a run, we couldn’t stop it.”
Game two saw Covington take an early 5-3 lead, expand it to 10-6 and then the Knights went on a 12-2 run to pull ahead 18-12.
The Trojans were able to play even up the rest of the game, but could not close the gap and lost 25-18.
“They have most of their players in summer leagues and we have only two,” said Sutherlin. “We have to change that. You have to play summer ball if you really want to get better.”
She also noted that the Knights had seven seniors while her team had two. She did not use that as an excuse, but did say that the lack of experience hurt her team.
“They could do some things we tried to prepare for, but they play off instinct,’ she said. “That means they can do some things that the average player doesn’t do.”
In the third game, it was close with the Trojans down 9-8, but then the Knights went on a tear. They ran off eight straight points then, after Covington got two more, got eight again to win 25-12.
“I think if we played them again several times, the outcome would still be the same,” said Sutherlin. “We did all we could do. We practiced hard. We came in prepared but for us to deal with them, we’d have to see that kind of ball almost every game, and we don’t.”
Looking back at the season and then to next year, Sutherlin said her team had improved as the year went by.
“They were all hard workers and they were dedicated to getting better,” she explained. “We hope next summer that we get more of them playing summer ball, but I’m excited to build on what we accomplished this year.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org