BY GREG FLINT email@example.com
---- — CAYUGA, Ind. — It took the full three games in the finals of the 32nd North Vermillion Invitational volleyball tournament before Covington was able to defeat Attica for the title.
The Trojans easily won the first game 25-16 but the Ramblers came right back to win 25-14 to force a third and decisive contest.
In that game, Covington took a small early lead at 5-3 but then went on a spurt to go up 10-4. Attica rallied to pull within three at 12-9, but they could get no closer and the Trojans pulled away to win 24-13 to claim the championship.
Jen Sutherlin, the Covington coach, gave the credit to her team for winning the third game after playing so poorly in the second.
“I didn’t change anything,” she said when talking about the difference in games two and three. “The girls knew they didn’t play well and they started talking among themselves and then they went out and played with intensity.”
It was a lack of that same intensity that had bothered Attica head coach Jillian Harrison about their opening game with the host Falcons.
“Our weakness is our need to stay intense,” she said. “We sometimes lose it and we struggle to get it back. We need to keep our focus in every game.”
In the consolation final, Fountain Central edged the host North Vermillion in three games, 25-8, 13-25 and 25-20.
Both games one and two were decided early as first the Mustangs and then the Falcons jumped out to big leads in their respective wins and never let their opponent back into the contest.
Game three was a different story as the Fountain Central took an early lead, but only by two points before North Vermillion tied it up.
The Mustangs made a run to go up 15-10, but the Falcons came back to pull within one at 21-20 before the visitors scored the final four points to win 25-20.
In the match, it seemed as though every time the Mustangs needed a run, it was Abby Moore’s turn to serve and she usually came through.
Asked about it, she gave credit to her teammates, saying, “When we play as a team and not for ourselves, we do well. We really got together and were intense out there.”
Moore did admit to doing spot serving - hitting long then short or right then left to confuse the opponent - but said that is simply part of her game and again talked about her team.
“We were tired of being an ‘almost team’ - almost winning but not quite,” she said. “We went out and focused and got pumped up and played to our ability. When we do that, we’re fine”
For North Vermillion, it was a rough day as they fell to Attica 25-17 and 25-22 in the opening round and then to Fountain Central in the consolation.
Falcon coach Lindsey Cummings said her team had good and bad moments on the court.
“We got a senior back and I tried a couple of different rotations and people in different positions,” she explained. “I think it made us a little nervous, but I also think we played better.”
Looking ahead is what Cummings wanted to do.
“I think we’re starting to gel,” she said. “We’ve got only two players back from last year and the rest are just learning. We are starting to get more comfortable, but we’re still inconsistent. We need to play more games together.”
In the other preliminary game, Covington defeated Fountain Central 25-14 and 25-13. Sutherlin said having just played the Mustangs earlier in the week was an advantage.
“We knew a lot about what they liked to do and how they did it, so we were prepared,” she explained. “We had a good practice yesterday and came out today ready to play.”
Asked about the importance of winning the tournament, Sutherlin talked about the future.
“It’s great to win the tournament because all the other three teams are WRC teams and we will be facing them later this season,” she said. “Winning this should give us confidence when we play them again and give us more incentive to keep getting better - because you know the other teams will, too.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org